Pros & Cons: Should You Hire Boomerang Employees?

It’s no secret that we’re all coping with a tight labor market right now. With unemployment rates hovering around 4 percent, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for companies to find qualified employees.

This has led many businesses to consider hiring “boomerang employees” – former employees who have left the company voluntarily and are now looking to return.

There are a number of obvious pros and cons to hiring boomerang employees in this tough job market and while many of these benefits — like saving time and being cost-effective — some of them are a little harder to interpret.

Boomerang employees return to former employers

Why do some companies avoid boomerang employees?

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention some of the reasons many companies avoid rehiring people who left.

There are the obvious ones that can’t be argued like bad blood between employees or people leaving on bad terms but other times, companies seem to hold a grudge simply because the person left at all and question their commitment and loyalty.

So what should you consider when presented with a potential boomerang employee?

Why did the employee quit?

While the jury is still out on whether or not boomerang employees have higher turnover rates, there’s always an opportunity for companies to double down on their retention efforts and look for ways to nurture company culture and clearly communicate the values that drive it. 

So, before writing a person off completely it’s important to consider the reasons boomerang employees may have left:

  • Was it for personal reasons?
  • Professional reasons like earning a better salary?
  • Were they lacking opportunities for promotion?

Would the average employee — or any reasonable person for that matter — do the same given the timing and circumstances in their life?

Boomerang employee considers his options

The Great Resignation & Boomerang Employees

The Great Resignation is the term that was coined to describe the historical quit rate happening within the job market as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some journalists have begun referring to this job market trend as the “Forever Resignation” — as evidence may suggest these resignation levels are here to stay.

Given the uncertainty during the Great Resignation, can we really blame the latest round of boomerang employees for the decisions they made in such unprecedented times? 

Often, timing is a huge factor for why a person leaves a company and has nothing to do with their abilities, value or fit within the original company culture.

It’s best to try to keep an open mind when a former employee expresses interest in returning. Otherwise, you could be turning down some of your most potentially talented people. 

Why should you hire boomerang employees?

We’ve covered a few of the reasons to be careful when considering whether or not to rehire an old employee but we believe given the right company culture and foundations the pros can far outweigh the cons of boomerang employees — one pro being a renewed sense of appreciation for the company. 

Newfound loyalty of boomerang employees

Like any other relationship — personal or professional — sometimes people just need to explore that other job opportunity to see for themselves that the grass is not always greener on the other side to realize just how good they had it to begin with. 

It boils down to familiarity and trust. As their previous employer, hiring someone who has already been vetted by your organization, is already familiar with your culture, and meshes well with your current employees – is likely going to be less inclined to jump ship again. 

The power of value & culture alignment for boomerang employees

When it comes time to fill a position, your first move may be to look at new employees to fill the opening. After all, fresh blood can bring new ideas and a fresh perspective to the company.

However, in many cases, it may be worth considering hiring back someone who has already left the company. Especially if that employee shares your company’s core values. 

Ultimately, when core values and company culture are in alignment with the goals and desires of your candidate, you’ll have a hard-working and committed employee supporting your mission.  

Boomerang employees champion for company culture

Skills & experience boomerang employees gain in their absence

It cannot be understated how valuable the skills and experience gained by your returning employees can be.

While they may have already been a strong performer when they worked for you the first time around, just think of the potential they could bring with the newfound skill sets they gained by trying something new.

The insights gained by getting different perspectives, working with a different team, and being challenged to grow in different ways will only serve to make your boomerang hires even stronger and more well-rounded candidates the second time around. 

Final thought: should you hire a boomerang employee?

Time savings and new hire training costs aside, the simple fact remains that hiring boomerang employees needs to be considered on a person-to-person basis.

When it comes down to make a decision to hire a boomerang employee, the most important questions to ask yourself:

  • is the employee aligned with your company’s values?
  • can they enhance your company culture?
  • will they get along with your current employees?

If you answered YES to these three questions, then any fears of them jumping ship again should be laid to rest.

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