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What are Boomerang Employees and Why Should I Care?

rw-admin | 01/27/2017

Boomerang Employees

Last month in our Employment Market Outlook 2017, we referenced the increase in “boomerang employees” as a predicted trend moving into the New Year.   Simply stated, a boomerang employee leaves a company, works elsewhere for a period of time, then returns to the same company and begins working there again. This may seem like an unusual circumstance, but chances are we will see this trend become more and more widely spread as the number of jobs increase and unemployment decreases.

Employers are struggling to fill highly technical positions in particular, and given the current candidate-driven market, the pool of talent will remain slim.  As a result, employers’ hands may be tied, forcing them to contemplate options they may not have considered in the past. Most hiring managers will tell you that rehiring former employees is frowned upon or downright forbidden in many HR policy handbooks, but with the climate of the employment market and the realization that most employees do not stay with one company for the duration of their career, this concept is changing.  Over 75% of HR survey respondents said that they are “more accepting of hiring boomerang employees than in the past.”

40% of employees say they would consider returning to a company where they previously worked. So who are these “boomerang employees?” They generally fall into four categories:

  1. Those who left to further their career.
  2. Those who feel they need to switch careers or industries all together.
  3. A life event forced them to leave.
  4. Those who boomerang on purpose (such as seasonal workers).

These are not your ex-employees who left on bad terms or quit under unsatisfactory circumstances.  These are generally good employees who just happen to leave for very specific reasons which did not leave a negative impact on the relationship.

What are the benefits of hiring a Boomerang?

  • They already know the company culture and have knowledge and experience with the product(s)/ service(s), saving you time and money in the recruiting and onboarding process.
  • Brand loyalty has already been established and doesn’t automatically go away when someone leaves a job. Therefore when a boomerang returns, a sense of trust and loyalty are already present.
  • It sends a message to other employees that your company must be pretty special or XX would not have returned. This can do wonders for company morale.
  • Chances are the employee returns more experienced and skilled than when they left, bringing with them increased value and productivity.

It may take a while for the old school concept against rehiring former employees to progress to a widely accepted practice, but as the employment landscape and workforce itself evolves, we will certainly see this affect the recruiting and hiring process.  Not necessarily a bad thing when we consider the shortage of top notch talent available. Considering all options, including former employees may be what is needed to help fill the vacuum.

Written By: Angie Barnes, The Q Works Group