Gone For Good This has been a hot topic of discussion in our office for the past couple of months. We ended up having a meeting about it with all our employees, and the consensus was that if you leave here, you're gone. You can't come back.

If you leave Mark IV Builders for the reasons people generally leave their jobs, then you're probably not a good fit for our company. Put another way, if you're with us for all the right reasons, then any differences we have — any reasons you'd want to leave — we should be able to work out before you leave, not after you've left and tried to come back.

We recently had a superintendent who left us over money. He was offered a dollar more per hour somewhere else, and he left us to take it. Well, he's called back several times since then, saying he made the wrong choice and asking for his job back. But the other supers' position — and I agree with it — is if the dollar was that important to him, then what does that say about how important his job was to him? If he's in it solely for the money, then he's not a good fit for us, no matter how talented he is.

I'm not saying we would never re-hire somebody. But there are very few situations where we'd welcome someone back who had left. If the guy left because of a family emergency or because he was moving out of town, that's one thing; we'd certainly consider bringing him back if he had been a good fit for the company. But it would be rare. The decision to leave is a serious one. If you know we will rehire you if you want to come back, then leaving becomes inconsequential.

Andy Hannan
Mark IV Builders
Bethesda, Md.
Big50 1996

Forgive and Forget Not only would I, I've actually done it on a number of occasions. One guy left to go out on his own, decided he didn't like it, and came back. It's been a year and a half since then, and everything has been fine; his commitment appears to be really solid. As long as I hold up my end of the bargain and give him challenging and interesting work, and as long as he holds up his end and produces for me, it's a win-win situation. I can offer a broad range of experiences in my company, but not an infinite range, and some people may need more experience. In fact, I think a good crew mix would be a lot of homegrown talent with a few “outsiders” who bring a different perspective from other companies they've worked for.

I'd rehire someone who left me to go across town to work for someone else for more money, though I haven't run into that situation yet. He'd go back into the same pay scale as everyone else in his skill range, but if he was a good employee and I was sorry to see him go, I'd re-hire him. There's no room for vengeance in what we do, and not hiring him back would be borderline vengeful. People may think they are in it for the money, but eventually most people figure out that they're not. To me, this is a person who has learned that money is only part of the total package, not the whole thing.

Having someone who left for more wages come back would be a good example to the rest of the crew, too. In essence, they'd learn what the employee had to find out for himself, that there's more to it than just the hourly wage.

Paul Eldrenkamp
Newton, Mass.
Big50 1993