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Management Buzz 08/04

Hiring ex-employees as consultants, Millenial workers and more

Making a Comeback

Tempted to hire back a former employee as a consultant? Doing so has some hidden advantages-and pitfalls, says Michael Shapow, division director with Robert Half Management Resources, a financial project firm in Pleasanton, California.

"A former employee can have a real advantage if he or she left for the right reasons," Shapow says. The employee knows the ropes and can get right down to business. He or she might also have excellent networks inside and outside the company that can help get the work done more effectively than a newcomer.

The picture might not all be rosy, however, if current staff resents the apparent premium charged by ex-employees who come back at a pricey hourly rate. And staffers who were secretly relieved to see the employee leave might be dismayed at his or her reappearance.

More insidious is the potential for conflict of interest. Companies with government contracts, in particular, need to be aware that it's easy for important customers to misunderstand the relationship of the ex-employee to your company. Check with your lawyer to detect potential conflicts before they erode the trust of clients who might question an ex-employee's loyalty.

Millennial Madness

A new generation gap is opening up in the workplace, but managers can bridge it if they understand what motivates the newest category of workers-Millennials.

While Gen Xers were famously cynical when they entered the work force, Millennials are enthusiastic about contributing to their employers' growth. Aged 18 to mid-20s, the Millennials believe they're good team players and expect to be included in strategic initiatives-and see that their contributions make an immediate difference, says Patrick Kulesa, global research director for Chicago global research and consulting firm ISR.

In August 2003, ISR released the results of a study that pinpoint how generations differ in what workplace factors motivate them. Says Kulesa, "[Millennials] are more optimistic in terms of feeling that there are long-term opportunities at their companies, and have confidence in their leaders."

Owners aware of the differences in generational thinking can consider those attitudes when organizing teams and assigning responsibilities, points out Kulesa. "There's an opportunity to build on that optimism by getting them to feel that they are a part of the company and that their decisions are important," he says. "That's easier in a small company."


22%
of employees say they've witnessed misconduct at work.
SOURCE: Ethics Resource Center

49%
of small-and midsize-business leaders say they are likely to hire new employees over the next year.
SOURCE: Penn Schoen & Berland Associates Inc.

Joanne Cleaver has written for a variety of publications, including the Chicago Tribune and Executive Female.

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This article was originally published in the August 2004 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Management Buzz 08/04.

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