In 2019, boomerang employees accounted for 3.9 percent of new hires. In 2021, that number is up to 4.5 percent. While that may not seem like a huge increase, 61 percent of employees who left their jobs in the last year would consider returning to their previous employer. Today’s employees are open to change and don’t shy away from going back to an old workplace. But why is that, what are the benefits of rehiring a former employee and how can your organization take advantage of this trend?
What is a boomerang employee?
A boomerang employee is one who returns to your organization after previously leaving. There has been an uptick in employees changing jobs during the so-called Great Resignation. At the same time, the boomerang phenomenon emerged as more people return to the jobs or organizations they left.
Why are people leaving and returning to a former job?
There are many reasons why employees left and now want to return. Many times, it’s a situation of a perceived greener pasture. Some were enticed by the opportunity to work remotely but then realized they missed the connectivity of being in person with coworkers. They may have realized the culture of the new organization wasn’t the right fit for them. They may have been experiencing burnout in their industry, but with some time off are now ready to return. An increase in pay or a bonus, unmet expectations in the new role and personnel changes at their previous company are some other reasons why employees have returned to former workplaces.
An overall shift in workplace trends also contributes to this phenomenon. People stay in jobs for shorter amounts of time; it’s no longer the norm that you retire from your very first job. This change allows people to feel more comfortable with leaving jobs to explore a new opportunity and return to the old employer when they realize it doesn’t align with their needs. People feel less obligation to stay in a role they’re unhappy in, and less shame about returning to a previous role when their new one wasn’t right for them.
What are the benefits of hiring a boomerang employee?
There are a lot of benefits to bringing back a former employee. There is a quicker learning curve because the employee is already familiar with the role and organization. This means less time and money spent on training the employee. Also, the employee is already aware of the organization’s culture and know it’s a good fit for them.
It also feels good for the employee to be asked to return. It means their former employer saw their work as valuable and they recognized and appreciated their contributions. That type of compliment can make an employee feel encouraged and excited about coming back to your organization.
What should you do to prepare for boomerang employees?
If your company doesn’t have a policy for returning employees, you may want to consider developing one. Do they return with the same amount of PTO, or does that get reset? Do they have to go through a waiting period before receiving insurance benefits, or does that get waived? Do these policies apply to any returning employees or only employees who returned within the same year? These are all factors to discuss when planning for boomerang employees.
How to take advantage of the boomerang employee trend in your recruiting
The best way for companies to take advantage of this trend is by creating an employee referral program if you don’t already have one. Incentivize your employees for referring someone who was then hired. This is especially prudent for boomerang employees, who typically are referred back by word of mouth or another direct method.
An exit interview and offboarding process is a perfect time to stress to an employee departing on good terms that the door is open for them to return. Some departing employees may worry that the organization is angry with them for leaving, which may prevent a future return. Use the exit interview to assure them that no one is upset with their decision and that you support their choice to pursue a new opportunity. You can also include the contact info of who they should reach out to in their exit letter.
Sometimes, a position held in your organization is a stepping stone in someone’s career and that’s okay; it’s important to have those employees. But treating the employee with respect and kindness during this process will leave them with a positive opinion of the company. Even as a stepping stone career, that employee may become a potential future client of your organization or a boomerang employee.
The rise in boomerang employees will likely continue with the Great Resignation, so make sure your recruitment strategy includes them. RKL’s Human Capital Management team has decades of experience in recruitment and retention and can help. Contact your RKL advisor or use the form below to start the conversation.