Revenge Hiring and Revenge Firing

Recruitment is one of the most important factors when it comes to putting your organisation into a position where it can compete, and be successful. Getting the right people into the right positions is crucial, and if done correctly, everything else after that is a whole lot easier. Conversely however, if a company’s recruitment policy is carried out poorly, or individuals within that company are not held to account, then you are going to have issues – and serious issues, not very far down the line. Here we deal with perhaps the worst instance of how recruitment can go very wrong.

What is Revenge Hiring?

In a nutshell revenge hiring is where someone in the business hires an individual merely to get one over – or to get revenge – on someone else in the same organisation or who used to be. Incredible though it sounds, this does go on, and it goes on a lot more than you would ever guess. Under the wide umbrella of revenge hiring, the motivation is often different in each case, but the one constant is that the underlying reason for the hire is not solely for the benefit of the business, but the individual doing the hiring.

Examples of revenge hiring

* The re-hiring of a fired employee: This is where an employee is fired by one manager, only to be re-hired by another manager. This can happen when two managers are poles apart in their thinking, or the hiring manager spots something in the individual that the firing manager is blind about, in order to prove that the firing manager was wrong.

* The roadblock hiring: In order to prevent a high calibre individual from climbing the ladder, a manager hires someone to fill a newly created additional layer; thus blocking the original employee from progressing and delaying the succession plan.

* The upper hand hiring: This happens when the CEO goes against your advice and hires someone you don’t believe is capable of doing the job. Many times this is the case when the hired individual is a relative, friend or former colleague.

* The HR vs. the business hiring: this occurs when the business decides to hire their preferred candidate instead of following the correct HR practices and procedures, in providing equal opportunity to all short listed candidates in an equal and fair manner.

Consequences of revenge hiring

Whichever way you look at it, revenge hiring is bad news, not only for the organisation, but more often for those being hired as well. If not checked, it will spread and eat away at your organisation like a cancer. When accused of revenge hiring the hiring manager will almost always trot out the business reasons behind the decision, but as it is crucial, you have to be firm and follow up on all cases where this has been seen to have occurred. By undertaking a policy of revenge hiring, a business, department or individual is putting themselves in a weaker position against their competitors. This is bad news for everyone, from the lowest employee, up to the CEO and the shareholders.

What is Revenge Firing?

As the name suggests this is revenge hiring in reverse, and by its definition is equally if not more damaging for the organisation, and certainly for the individual involved.

Examples of revenge firing

* The firing of a hired employee: This occurs when a manager fires an individual who has been hired by another manager merely to show that the latter was wrong and that he/she is going to do things differently and to cut out any remaining loyalty to the hiring manager.

* The firing of an ethical employee: This occurs when an employee is fired because he/she refuses to align themselves with the corrupt or unethical practices carried out by the manager in question.

* Firing of “once useful” toxics: This occurs when a manager fires an employee they have used to do their “dirty work”. For example they may have implemented fraud, corruption or unethical procedures. When they are no longer useful, this individual is then fired in order to protect the manager and prevent the truth coming to the surface.

* The boycott firing/scapegoat: When, in order to deflect the attention or heat from him or herself, the manager fires an individual, therefore making it appear that the person being fired is the one responsible for the present situation.

* The Firing Resignation: Even though it is seen as a resignation, actually it is hidden behind a top manager’s desire to fire. This is where a manager “forces” an employee indirectly to resign by continually undermining them; giving poor and unfair appraisals; preventing the individual from promotion, etc.

Consequences of revenge firing

Like its sibling, revenge firing is an incredibly destructive practice that needs to be stamped out as soon as it becomes evident it has taken place. Not only is your organisation depriving itself of potentially talented individuals, but you are wide open to tribunals and legal action.


There are no circumstances where either revenge firing or hiring is a good thing for the individual or organisation involved. It is far, far better to take the often difficult steps to address this as soon as it rears its head, because the long term consequences are likely to be far more damaging and far reaching. Additionally, by ensuring the correct policies and procedures are in place and are always followed, you are putting yourself in a position where it is more unlikely to happen in the first place.


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