It’s never easy to see a talented employee leave, but in today’s market, the stakes may feel even higher. With turnover rates at an all-time high, voluntary resignations may have become commonplace at your organization. As employers across the country grapple with the same situation, competition for top talent remains fierce—and you may be struggling to backfill these open positions, as a result. To overcome this challenge, you may want to consider an untapped source of talent: boomerang employees.
What are boomerang employees?
A boomerang employee is an employee who has left the company, but then returns to work for the company after some time away. Companies in specialized industries, such as Public Accounting, have utilized this strategy in the past, but it is increasingly being used more widely.
In fact, boomeranging is also becoming a popular trend among job seekers. According to a report by UKG, nearly 1 in 5 people who quit during the pandemic have already gone back to the job they left. For those who have not yet returned, 41% would consider it if it were an option.
Should you consider hiring boomerang employees?
With professionals realizing the grass is not always greener, employers have an opportunity to engage former employees who may be eager to return. While boomerang employees can be a very successful hiring strategy, you’ll want to carefully weigh the pros and cons—and you may even want to consider it on a case-by-case basis.
Pros of boomerang employees
The benefits of rehiring a former employee are plentiful. They include:
- A much less time- consuming and more cost-effective hiring and onboarding process
- A higher likelihood (and level of confidence) that they can add value to your company culture
- More familiarity with the team, company structure, and expectations
- New skills, experiences, perspectives, and relationships they can bring back with them
- Increased productivity and loyalty
When to think twice
There are certainly situations where you would want to think twice before hiring a boomerang employee. These situations include:
- They originally left the company under negative circumstances (even if they weren’t fired)
- The company has drastically changed since they originally left, and there may be a strong adjustment period
- They weren’t a top performer or are not the best fit for the open role
- They cannot articulate why they want to return or if they are truly ready
How to assess boomerang employees
If you are considering a boomerang employee, you will want to consider asking some targeted interview questions to ensure they are the best option for the role. Here are a few helpful questions to get started:
- What have you been doing since you left the company?
- How have you increased your skillset and experience since you were last with us?
- Why do you want to come back? Why now?
Leveraging this untapped talent pool
Boomerang employees are not something new, and it is not surprising to see this trend accelerate in our new normal. If this is a sourcing tactic that you’d like to incorporate into your overall hiring strategy, leaders must invest time into relationship building with current and former employees. Some ways to do this include:
- Creating a culture of engagement, inclusiveness, and belonging: Employees who can look back at their time with a company positively, will be much more likely to return than those who had negative experiences.
- Keeping the door open: When a top employee resigns, it’s important to remain level-headed and positive. Conduct a thorough exit interview to understand their reasons for leaving and try to encourage a return by letting them know they’re welcome to come back.
- Make improvements: It may be helpful to identify data and trends from your exit interviews to identify ways to improve the overall employee experience.
- Create an alumni network: Make it easy to reengage former employees by keeping the lines of communication open. Whether that is through an alumni group on LinkedIn, hosting events for former employees, or sending regular email communications, make it easy for them to stay in touch and up-to-date on company news.