Boomerang employees are the ones who left the company for a better job or salary, and after some time they are re-hired into the organization. This practice is becoming popular these days with people like Steve Jobs, Steve Huffman (co-founder of Reddit), and LeBron James leaving their glamorous jobs and returning to the same employer in different circumstances.

People mostly leave a job for the following reasons:

  • Learn new skills to add to their CV and also a higher pay package.
  • To pursue their passion
  • Personal reasons like a medical condition, child care, etc.
  • To work on something seasonally but to come back to their former work within a year or so.

There are mixed feelings about hiring an ex-employee amongst recruiters. On the face, it may seem that companies would not like to hire a past employee who left the company on their own volition since they are not sure of their loyalty as well as it might make the organization look weak. It boils down to the inherently human nature of feeling hurt, and they feel they are giving the employees an upper hand by hiring a former employee.

Though, there is another school of thought which promotes letting past employees back into the system. So it would be interesting to see the pros and cons of the rising culture of boomerang employees:

Those who feel hiring an ex-employee is not a good idea might have the following as their reasons:

Personality – Every company wants someone who performs well as it is good for their success. But personality is also a major draw for companies. Someone can be a star performer, but if s/he does not fit their culture or if others in the team feel insignificant or offended, then it’s an obvious no-no to re-hire them. Someone who hampers the productivity of the team should not be hired back.

Best fit vs Easy hire – It is a known fact the re-hiring someone is much easier than onboarding a brand new employee. But recruiters must weigh the pros and cons of ease of hiring against the fact whether that past employee is the best fit for the role or not. Even if it is cheaper to hire a former employee, you must look out for someone new who would have more passion and bring novelty to the company. So it might be better to keep the options open without settling down for an easy one.

The reasons in favour of hiring an ex-employee could be:

A cost-saving option – A survey by Glassdoor says that it takes 50% less in terms of cost when you hire a boomerang employee in comparison to hiring an unknown applicant. These former employees already know your culture and fit in seamlessly without losing much time in reaching their full productivity. The onboarding process is a breeze with an ex-employee.

They boost employee morale and loyalty – When others in the organization see an ex-employee re-entering the system, it brings about better employee alignment with the company and also increases reliability. Other people who have worked with the past employee feel happier, and there is an overall spread of well-being amongst all employees. The VP of Global Talent Acquisition, Brendan Browne, says that a boomerang employee adds another layer of loyalty on top of the established employer-employee relationship. It validates the brand as an employer and in turn, helps in employee retention.

They bring a fresh perspective – In most cases, an employee leaves a company to get a better experience, skills, leadership opportunities, etc. They bring back these valuable experiences and insights into your company which can be highly beneficial to your organization.

It is the time of the Millennials, and their career agendas and outlook are very different from the traditional ones. They depend more on their talent than on the loyalty factor. So as a company, you need to be aware of these trends and give reasons for employees to stay or come back to you. You must consider hiring an ex-employee on a case by case basis considering aspects like the way they left and the reasons for quitting. Hiring a boomerang employee is not a bad thing per se and must be approached with an open mind.

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Shalini L

One of the prime contributors for this blog, Expertise in Staffing and Recruitment, Content Strategist by Profession. A Music Lover & Traveller by Choice.

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