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Welcoming Back Boomerang Employees

Nov 28, 2022

Posted by: Sean Dowling, Vice President, KBW Financial Staffing and Recruiting

In today’s competitive job market, no company wants to see good employees leave. Retaining new and tenured talent is vital for organizations as we head deeper into uncharted labor markets and employers are finding that their previous employees may be best suited to filling previous, or even more advanced roles after their time away.

A 2022 research survey, from payroll firm UKG, reported that 43% of people who quit their jobs during the pandemic now admit they were better off in their old position. The survey also found that nearly 1 in 5 people who quit during the pandemic have already gone back to the job they left.

Bringing these “boomerang employees”—individuals who quit their jobs only to return to the company weeks, months, and even years later—back into the corporate fold presents employers with a unique opportunity to tap into an underutilized pool of candidates and fill their open positions while competitors may be struggling.

Benefits of Boomerang Employees

While there is likely a surplus of reasons for both leaving a job as well as returning, the adage “the grass isn’t always greener on the other side” comes to mind when discussing the return of former employees. Boomerang employees can offer a fresh perspective on the company or job they are returning to. After experiencing a different management style, a new environment, and new responsibilities, these employees stand to bring an upbeat and appreciative mindset when returning to their previous roles.

The return of a successful employee could also encourage staff who may have been contemplating quitting to reconsider if their impending switch will really be worth it.

In addition to the moral boost they can provide to existing team members, hiring and onboarding a new employee is more costly and time-consuming than bringing on a re-hire. Boomerang workers are already familiar with the organization, the process, and expectations, and can hit the ground running with minimal training. That being said, HR experts advise employers to ensure that returning employees are onboarded like they’re new to the organization to reacquaint them with your organizational narrative and demonstrate how the company has grown in their absence.

What Makes a “Good Boomerang?”

Not every former employee will make a good return-employee. The best boomerang workers are the ones who left the organization on good terms, with relationships intact, and an exemplary record of performance. Managers will speak highly of the individual’s capabilities long after their departure. These individuals may have left for personal reasons, the pursuit of education, exposure to new industries, or an opportunity to advance their careers.

Potential Pitfalls

Although re-hiring can be a winning scenario for both employer and employee, the transition isn’t always flawless. It’s important to identify why a returning employee left in the first place. If a returning employee’s reasons for leaving are still applicable, it should be considered if the re-hire is a further flight risk. As much as a returning employee can improve team moral, it can also have a detrimental effect if a returning employee then withdraws from the role a short time later.

In addition, if a former employee returns to an elevated position within the company, it could leave their colleagues who stayed loyal to the organization with a bitter taste and the impression that employees who quit are rewarded if they return. Be sure to communicate the logic behind such a decision to your staff in the event of a re-hire returning to a more senior role to mitigate jealousies and hard feelings that may result in further attrition or a toxic environment.

Encouraging Boomerang Employees

If your organization is suffering from the turnover of valued employees, consider setting them up as potential boomerang employees. It’s not guaranteed that they’ll come back, but if you apply the following tips, your organization stands to be more welcoming to prospective returning employees, and more inclusive overall, which can only positively impact the workplace ecosystem.

  • Leave the Door Open. Something as simple as letting a departing employee know that you valued their contributions and would be willing to have them back should they find their next opportunity to be lacking can keep the door. They’ll remember your invitation in the event that their new role is unsatisfactory, and may come knocking sooner than you think!
  • Keep the Community Alive. 38% of surveyed workers identified missing their peers & coworkers as a key reason for wanting to return to a previous employer. Fostering an inclusive environment that makes it easy to belong and feel valued is essential in creating a company culture people will want to re-engage with.
  • Be Happy for Them. This is easier said than done and may feel awkward at first, but if you’re able to relay to a departing employee that you’re as excited for their new experience as they are, they will remember your genuine enthusiasm for their professional growth.
  • Stay in Touch. In the age of technology, keeping communications open with former employees is easier than ever. Utilize emails and professional social media platforms, like LinkedIn, to reach out to a valued employee who has left and inquire how they’re doing. Even if they’re completely satisfied with their switch, your genuine concern will leave a lasting positive impression.
A Culture of Belonging

Any organization’s leaders would rather keep their good people than lose them in the first place. It may only take one bad experience or interaction for employees to start looking for new opportunities in today’s erratic job market, which means it is up to employers to cultivate a work environment that not only welcomes ex-employees back but encourages them not to leave in the first place.

Returning employees clearly offer a host of benefits and when re-introduced to their organization properly, they will likely be more committed and turn out to be your most valuable, long-term employee. They can help build a strong culture, boost team morale, and they’re already familiar with the organization, products, and expectations. Boomerangs can be an incredible untapped asset, but only if companies are prepared to welcome them back with sincerity.

About BANKW Staffing

Through its portfolio companies, KBW Financial Staffing & Recruiting, Alexander Technology Group, The Nagler Group, Sales Search Partners, and KNF&T Staffing Resources, BANKW Staffing, LLC is the leading regional provider of temporary and direct-hire staffing services in the areas of finance, accounting, information technology, office and administration, legal, human resources, and sales.

BANKW Staffing companies have received over 100 awards for rapid growth, business excellence, and workplace quality. Recognition includes Inc. 500, Boston Business Journal’s “Best Places to Work” and Business NH Magazine’s “Business of the Year”.

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