Rehiring ex-employees is becoming more common as companies attempt to hold onto top talent.
The secret sauce to building a successful business is a team that you can trust. With unemployment rates at historic lows, employers are scrambling to find and retain top talent. In today’s tight labor market, one trend is emerging as a popular solution: boomerang employees—former employees who left an organization for another opportunity, only to return to their original employer later.
Having analyzed records of 15 million employees, a 2022 survey from HR analytics platform Visier found that one-third of hires over the last three years were boomerang employees. In the first few months of 2022 alone, boomerang employees accounted for 28 percent of new hires. Let’s have a deeper look at why boomerang employees may be the key to put together a dream team.
Saving recruitment and training costs
While 47 million Americans left their jobs during the “Great Resignation” in 2021, it was also a time of realization for both former employees and employers. While the employees who left recognized the lack of job prospects in their new jobs, employers had to face the lack of a talent pool to fill in the gaps left by their ex-employees. They also understood that hiring replacement workers would be costly. Hence, the most obvious solution to this problem is to encourage former employees to return to their old jobs. Not only does this save on recruitment and training costs, it also allows employers to tap into a pool of experienced and qualified workers.
Research suggests that employers can save between one-third and two-thirds on recruiting costs when they fill the open position with a former worker. Also, since they already know your company’s values and procedures, they will be able to hit the ground running and be productive more quickly than new hires.
A good cultural fit
Boomerang employees can fit in more seamlessly to the team because they already have first-hand experience with the company culture. According to Dan Schawbel, Founder of research and advisory membership WorkplaceTrends.com and New York Times Bestselling Author of Promote Yourself, organizations should prioritize hiring former employees who are a good cultural fit.
These individuals will be more productive when returning because they understand the company culture, values and expectations. They may have valuable relationships with other employees and customers that the company can leverage. Moreover, their retuning to the company demonstrates they will have a stronger sense of loyalty and commitment the second time around, benefitting the company.
Higher pay and benefits
In many cases, employees “boomerang” after resigning can negotiate a higher salary and title. After all, you’re no longer an “unknown quantity”—your former employer knows what you’re capable of, so they’re more likely to give you a raise or promotion.
According to Visier’s analysis of 129 global companies, boomerang employees experienced a 28 percent pay raise between January and April 2022. Andrea Derler, Principal of Research and Value at Visier, explains that has to do with their increased knowledge of the company and other experiences they’ve gained since departing.
Boomerang employees often return to a former company because they appreciate the advantages a familiar setting can offer them. Among all age groups, 52 percent of people in the 25-35 age group would like to return to the work environment their old employer represented, as per a survey by staffing firm Randstad India.
Being familiar with a previous work setting can be advantageous for many reasons. For example, individuals who have worked for the same organization before may have a better understanding of that organization’s culture. In other words, they know what they are getting themselves into and are more likely to stay committed. In addition, they can re-acclimate to the company’s systems and procedures much more effortlessly. Finally, old employees often have established relationships with the team, which can make settling back into the workplace less stressful.
Cons of Rehiring
Despite the bright sides, rehiring boomerang employees has its fair share of cons. Whether to invite an employee back should be considered on a case-by-case basis, so employers need to consider the problems that may arise as well.
First, depending on their reason for returning, they may not be as committed to the organization as they were before they left. For instance, they may come back because they are still looking for a better opportunity at the moment. Thus, there is always the chance that the boomerang will leave again after a short period of time, disrupting productivity and morale within the company. Besides, be it a cultural clash, a conflict with coworkers or an involuntary layoff, they may still be bitter towards the company for making them leave in the first place. Finally, boomerang employees may expect special treatment or privileges that other employees do not have, which could create tension and conflict within the workplace.
Although boomerang employees are becoming more and more common, if you’re considering rehiring a former employee, carefully weigh the pros and cons to decide if it’s the right move for your company. Also, make sure to communicate with the rehired employees well and relay any changes with, for instance, day-to-day operation and company structure when onboarding them.
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