Be backs or boomerangs ?

According to a survey most sought after companies like Google, Amazon and Aflac all have an average new-hire tenure of just over a year. (Source: business insider)


Even with strong recruitment and retention programs in place, some employee turnover is inevitable as more and more professionals utilize job-hopping as a strategy to advance their careers.

Based on a survey results, published by a reputed business journal in September 2015, nearly two third of HR professionals claim their organization are hiring more returning employees today than in the past.

The earliest corporate alumni networks were mostly social in nature, (for e.g. the company where I’d worked had a Vice President who maintained personal contact with every employee who left the company) but rarely an integral part of corporate strategy but now with social media sites, like LinkedIn, it is easier for company leaders to stay in touch with former employees, whether they’re in the office next door or halfway across the country.

The resentment is obvious to let go a good employee who leaves for greener pastures, but with today’s workers changing jobs and career paths more frequently than in the past, someone’s departure should seem less a betrayal and more a smart choice to gain new experience.

But what if that employee later wants to return?

The number of these “boomerang employees” — the nickname given to employees who leave but ultimately return – is on the rise, according to the New York Times.

A quick analysis identified “four flavors “of boomerang employees:

  1. Those who left to further their career. These are the ones who worked for an employer for a number of years, but saw an opportunity to add new skills and progress and then came back at a higher level and higher pay. They may have been gone three to five years.
  2. Professionals with a career itch to scratch. They had been at a company a fairly long time. Their colleagues may have moved on to do something different. They saw an opportunity they couldn’t pass up. Or they came to the conclusion to try something different, maybe an opportunity to change industries or follow a passion. But get disillusioned and hope to return.
  3. A life event forced them to leave. But the ailing relative passed away or the young child which needed care has grown up so now they are ready to return as a contract worker, or work remotely with some flexibility.
  4. Those who boomerang on purpose. Season workers seen more in the western countries. Or some adventure sports passionate who takes a break for mountaineering or a skiing enthusiast.


Now, you would agree that even the most rigorous interview process and pre-employment aptitude exams can only provide a very small snapshot of how a person performs in the organization, while actual experience at the company can speak volumes.


Former employees also are cheaper to hire because firms can avoid external recruiters and a prolonged slog through résumés of unqualified applicants. Some of the other benefits of rehiring a former employee are:

  • Save money and time, with faster on-boarding: Former employees have an advantage on other applicants because they understand the work structure, are familiar with the organization’s culture and require minimal training to get them up to speed.
  • Add new skills to your company: Returning employees may bring everything from new industry skills to expanded networks.
  • Strengthen company loyalty and commitment: Rehiring a former employee can be a big boost to office morale, especially if the employee was well liked and respected by the office before his or her departure. And when high quality talent returns it sends a message to other employees that their workplace isn’t as bad as they had possibly thought.
  • Increased commitment: Employees that have departed your company for supposed greener pastures once before are more likely to have longer tenures of employment than those that have not.

Bottom line – Before deciding to rehire a boomerang employee company should consider the following:

Needs of the company: consider whether or not your company even needs the skill sets that this individual embodies.

Assess past performance: Make sure to chat with former coworkers and managers to understand if the employee was a great contributor or easily replaceable.

Original reason for leaving: Dig into the reasons why the employee left in the first place. Was it a financial issue? Restricted growth? A poor cultural fit? Understanding the issues, and whether or not you now have solutions, is very important to predicting the future satisfaction of this individual.

Reason for returning: There are ‘right’ reasons to return to a job and there are most definitely wrong ones. Have a heart-to-heart conversation with the individual to figure out his/her motives.When it comes time to fill a new position, then don’t rule out the possibility that your next hire may already have worked for you!

I am not trying to persuade your hiring practices to include, or not include, boomerang employees.Instead, I would encourage you to research both the pros and cons and make the best choice for your company. You never know, your next top performer could come knocking at your door (again!).


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