Boomerang Employees – Risk or Reward?

Many are saying the Great Resignation is fueling one of the biggest hiring trends happening right now: boomerang employees.

Whether it is for professional or personal reasons, a boomerang employee is someone who takes a job elsewhere or quits altogether, and later chooses to come back to their former employer. Employees might temporarily leave to further their career, receive higher pay, due to a major life event, or simply want to try something different.

Historically, leaving an organization for another job was considered disloyal and rehiring former employees was a no-no. Fast forward to 2021, where organizations continue to grapple with skill shortages and a tight labor market. Now, many employers are giving serious consideration to boomerang employees. HR professionals and hiring managers are now realizing that loyalty does not always end when someone moves onto another opportunity.

With unemployment hitting record lows and companies scrambling to recruit talent, many experts believe that the wave of boomerang employees could last for the next five years. Some former employees will have recovered from the burnout of the pandemic, see that employers have changed their mind on things like flexible work, or have realized that the grass is not always greener. Others might feel more equipped to do their old job now that they have new perspectives and experiences. Maybe it took them leaving to realize their job was not as bad as they thought, or maybe it took the company realizing they should have done more to retain talent.

The fact is that more and more companies are considering rehiring someone and looking closely at the pros and cons of doing so. There are always question marks around hiring an unknown employee, such as will they be a good fit for the team or will they actually have the skills and experience they touted about during their interview. Significant benefits can result from hiring a former employee because you know their work ethic, personalities, and why they left. It is considered a less risky rehire because the employee will be familiar with the position and require less training. Additionally, they are already familiar with the company culture and direction, and an established relationship could increase retention.

However, it is important to remember that hiring a boomerang employee needs to be a win for both parties. The employee did leave for a reason, so it is important to investigate further and not pull the trigger too quickly just because it is easier. As employers, it is important to treat employees with respect as they exit and take offboarding seriously. If a former employee is considering coming back, the way they were treated when they left will leave a lasting impression. It is equally important the employees do the same because you never know if you will want to return.

As the workforce grows and people are receptive to new opportunities, we will continue to see growth in the number of boomerang employees. Employers and employees should both do their due diligence before joining forces again and ensure it is a mutually beneficial relationship.

Abby Gary is the Director of Professional Services at HTI. To learn more about HTI’s professional recruiting services, click here

Abby Gary


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