In the 2022 job market, there were many trending topics, such as the Great Resignation and the concept of Reskilling and Upskilling, but have you heard of the term Boomerang Employee? This refers to an individual who returns to an organization after having left. According to Forbes, 62% of individuals who left their position during the Great Resignation would consider returning to their past employer. This is a particularly poignant figure following years of mass resignations and increased competition for top talent.
With a couple of Boomerang Employees of our own, we thought we would discuss the benefits and other factors to consider when debating the possibility of reintroducing a former employee to your team.
One of the undisputed benefits of welcoming back a former employee is that they return with pre-existing knowledge of the company, the people, and the workplace culture. With the average cost of Onboarding estimated at $4100, it not only saves the time associated with training but on the cost to the business as well.
It’s also difficult to deny that Boomerang Employees bring an increased sense of familiarity and confidence – something organizations may be craving during a global talent shortage and overall economic uncertainty. In addition, there is an understanding of this individual’s strengths and the areas where they are best suited, as well as transparency on their weaknesses. While there is unmistakable clarity as to what this individual can bring back to the table, it’s important to consider that after working somewhere else, they’re likely returning with a fresh perspective and new ideas. If you’re an employer that’s open to improvements and new initiatives, it’s a win-win to ask this returning employee what they may have experienced working elsewhere.
Welcoming back previous employees can also act as a unique retention strategy. Having staff members who left for greener pastures only to want to return, indirectly sends a message to current employees that if they were to depart, they might also experience regret. Lastly, when it comes to the Boomerang Employees themselves, they often come back with an even deeper feeling of gratitude after experimenting with something new that perhaps didn’t live up to expectations.
While the online discourse about Boomerang Employees is predominantly positive, it’s necessary to keep in mind the complexities of why an individual left in the first place before welcoming them back with open arms. Perhaps it was for a new industry, a different management style or higher compensation? Regardless of the reason, it’s important to engage in transparent preliminary conversations to assess what may or may not have changed during the time they were elsewhere and if the individual and the organization are still a good match. Referring to notes taken during an employee’s exit interview can be a helpful tool and serve as a framework for guiding as objective a conversation as possible. This is also why it’s imperative to offboard your employees effectively so that they are leaving on good terms and that you have valuable feedback to look back on.
As an employer, you’ll also want to put considerable thought into the messaging and approach you take with existing team members should you decide to hire a former employee. The last thing you want to do is to unsettle your current staff by purveying that loyalty isn’t valued. That said, it can be taken as a great opportunity to express to your team how much they are appreciated while ensuring that existing systems, processes, and compensation structures are as equitable as possible.
Many of us can relate to being told not to burn bridges as an employee, and it’s equally important to be mindful of this as an employer. We hope this blog has served as a reminder for companies to treat staff with as much respect and thoughtfulness on the way out as they would experience on the way in; because you never know when a top performer will come knocking again.