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Author:  Tara Smylie

When an employee is finished with you, they’re gone for good, right? Not quite. The “boomerang employee” has existed since the dawn of the workplace and is alive and well today. In the wake of the pandemic and the associated Great Resignation, many employees who left their jobs started to have second thoughts about their decision – and many employers are open to rehiring them.

Here we’ll discuss why employees seek to return to their old workplaces, and some of the pros and cons of bring former quitters back into the fold.

Why do employees return?

In a study of people who quit their jobs during the mass exodus that began with the pandemic, job leavers gave several reasons for wanting their old job back again:

  • Former coworkers (38%): workplace morale can make or break a job, so employees who don’t click with their new coworkers may soon find themselves missing their old work pals.
  • Former customers (22%): if your employee had customers at your company, perhaps they found them easier to connect with.
  • Familiarity with the old role (31%): your employee may have overestimated his or her ability to adapt to a different environment and seek a return to a familiar role they know they can perform well.
  • Paycheck (19%): Often, employees simply can’t find a better deal elsewhere (though they won’t want you to know that!).
  • Work-life balance (16%): if a new job demands overtime or gives little consideration to needs outside of work, people find themselves dreaming about a former position with more understanding management

As long as your former employee seems genuinely interested in returning and keen to keep performing well, you should at least consider taking them back. Feel free to ask what they preferred about their experience with you. That way, you can aim to keep them satisfied in those areas – and maybe gain some insight into retaining your other employees.

Advantages of rehiring previous talent

When training boomerangers, you’re not starting from scratch. They’re already familiar with company procedures and culture, so you won’t have to pour as many resources into training them. What’s more, their connections with former customers may encourage those customers to come back.

Rehires can also draw on experiences working elsewhere to bring you fresh insights into the current market. Maybe they discovered a more efficient way to manage lab inventory or learned new strategies for launching a cosmeceutical product online. Whatever they spent their time doing, they likely gained knowledge and experience you’ll want to hear about.

Rehired employees also tend to be more reliable than they were before. Having tested outside waters and found them less welcoming than they’d hoped, this time they’ll lean toward sticking around. They’ll appreciate that you took them back and feel a renewed sense of investment in your company.

Potential pitfalls

Take a good look at your own motivations and see if they stack up. Are you overlooking more suitable candidates in favor of an easy rehire? Think long-term and resist the lure of momentary convenience. If many qualified candidates exist for the job you need to fill, you have a good chance of finding that fresh star who will more than make up for training costs.

Another caveat: depending on their experiences after leaving your company, former employees may come back with higher expectations or a different attitude. To get a sense of their mindset, ask probing questions during the re-interview and consider whether you’re still a good match for each other.

Trust your instincts

Rehiring a former employee can save time, costs, and headaches. Just bear in mind that the process comes with some risks. Bottom line, no two rehiring scenarios look alike, so take some time to consider the pros and cons of your situation. And don’t ignore your instincts: sometimes your gut speaks more clearly than any checklist.

If you’d like some guidance on hiring—or rehiring—the best talent for your company’s current needs, Sci.bio has the life-sciences expertise to get you started.

References

  1. ‘Boomerang employees’ who quit jobs during pandemic may soon beg for them back
  2. Resign, Resigned, or Re-Sign?
  3. Want Good Hires Who Stick Around? Make Their Careers Your Business
  4. Research: Business should embrace ‘boomerang employees’
  5. Pros and Cons of Boomerang Employees