There was a time when returning to a former job carried a lot of stigma. The employee might feel as if they are having to shamefully crawl back to an old job. An employer may feel ridiculed for thinking of rehiring employees who had rejected them. They may make decisions in hiring based on personal grudges and hurt egos.
As times change, leadership changes, and so do opinions. In a recent survey, 76% of HR professionals stated that they would consider rehiring a former employee. 56% stated that they feel former employees are an important aspect of hiring practices.
Companies are finding that employees that come back, also referred to as boomerang employees, may actually be good for business.
What’s with all the boomerangs?
The increase in the number of boomerang employees has to do with employer practices and economic climate.
As stated earlier, attitudes are changing. At one time, almost half of businesses had policies stating that former employees could not be rehired. Now businesses are much more likely to accept boomerang employees.
The attitudes of employees also seem to be more open. While only 15-29% of those surveyed stated they had returned to a former employer, 40% said they would consider doing so.
The increase in the amount of boomerang employees is not only about the change in perception of them, but also the changes in the economy and the world itself.
As technology continues to evolve, the internet and social media have allowed employees to be presented with more opportunities and for employers to attract a wider range of candidates, including former employees. Technology and education have created the need for more job specialization and employees seem to change jobs more often. The need for more specialized skills and the increased fluidity of the workforce has created an atmosphere where being a boomerang employee can be a benefit.
How does this change things?
With boomerang employees becoming a more common occurrence, employers and employees may need to change the employment process.
Employees need to think carefully about how they leave a company as they could want to return to that company at a later date.
Employers should keep in touch with former employees and include them in the list of possible recruits. Some companies even go so far as to have boomerang recruitment programs and alumni groups on social media.
What are the benefits of boomerangs?
There are many reasons why employers should actively recruit and hire boomerang employees:
Saving Money – It is often cheaper to rehire a former employee than it is to hire a new employee. Recruiters do not have to use resources looking for qualified employees and the company does not have to spend as many resources on training. By some estimates, hiring boomerang employees costs the company one-third to two-thirds less than a new hire.
Saving Time – Boomerang employees can be hired and trained in less time than a new employee. They also acclimate quicker as they have some knowledge of the company.
Increasing Engagement – Hiring former employees can provide a boost to morale and engagement. The rehired employee will be happy to be back and will be a model for positive and engaged work. Others in the company will see that people are coming back. They might think that the company they work for is the best of the available options, causing them to feel more satisfied with their work.
Will the boomerangs come back?
If an organization has decided that re-hiring boomerang employees will benefit them, there are many strategies that can be put in place:
Leave on good terms – When an employee leaves, make sure there is good communication prior to and after the employees’ last day. Meet with the employee to try to understand why they are leaving and see if there is anything that can be done before or after they leave to keep them and improve the company. Make sure to have an exit interview where you can thank them for their service and leave the option of coming back open.
Keep in contact – After the employee leaves the company, you can follow them on social media or keep in contact through email. This gives you a chance to also learn about the new skills the employee is learning in their new job. Keep them up-to-date on your company’s evolution.
Create groups and networking opportunities – Some former employees stay in touch using blogs or social media groups. The company can become a member of the group and post different things about the company in order to be in contact with a large number of potential boomerang employees.
Make a better offer – Valuable employees can sometimes be hard to find. Depending on why an employee left, the company can offer them something that can attract them back. This could be a higher salary, but it could also be more flexibility, a promotion, or training opportunities.
Improve the organization – If your company has an open and honest culture, employees will provide helpful feedback when they leave. Use that feedback to help improve the organization. That information can be important in attracting former employees but also in motivating and retaining current employees.
While there are many benefits to boomerang employees and many ways of attracting former employees, don’t neglect those who chose to stay with your company. Employee engagement is a long-term strategy and it has to be tailored to each type if employee, to answer their specific needs and wants.
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