Boomerang Employees: What to Do When They Come Back to You
Does it make sense to hire a "boomerang employee" - someone who once worked for your business, left, and now wishes to come back?
In a job market that once disdained such employees, it appears attitudes are changing. In a 2015 national survey, more than 75 percent of HR professionals say they're more favorably inclined towards boomerang employees than previously. In the same survey, almost 40 percent of employees said returning to a company where they were once employed is a strong consideration in their career plans. More than half of HR professionals and managers surveyed report giving "high or very high priority" to job candidates who once worked for their company and left in good standing.
One reason for this change in hiring mindset is related to employers seeing a shortage of qualified individuals for specific job positions. Recruiting an individual who once served in the open position, and has demonstrated skill and experience in the role, is certainly an appealing prospect.
But before hiring a "boomerang" employee, consider these advantages and disadvantages:
Think of the time you may save on a former employee who has a working knowledge of your business and customer base. In many cases, far less orientation and training is required of them. They understand the company culture, know what's expected of them to succeed at their jobs, and likely have good relationships with coworkers and possibly customers as well. You also know more about their skill sets and abilities based on their prior work performance.
"Enticing them back may in some cases yield a double benefit of someone who understands your firm, while also bringing a fresh perspective from their most recent position."
Your organization and industry may have changed a great deal since the "boomerang" employee worked for you. That may mean more training will be necessary to bring him or her up to speed while breaking formerly entrenched habits and processes. It's also important to address any previous work performance issues with that employee, which may be unresolved. Such issues may resurface and cause problems.
If, after carefully weighing the benefits of hiring a "boomerang" employee, you decide to move forward, keep these practical tips in mind:
Re-Test and Re-Interview
Don't take the prospective rehired employee's working knowledge for granted. Staffing expert Julie Tappero urges employers to "approach potential rehires as you would previously unknown candidates." Perform all necessary due diligence, including a review of all the individual has done since leaving your business. Conduct skills tests to measure their industry knowledge. Also, Tappero says, "don't be afraid to ask tough questions such as, 'What do you think you can offer our company now that some of our priorities and service goals have changed?'"
Monitor the Re-Hire's Progress
As with any new employee, it's a best practice to monitor how well they're settling in and getting things done. Take time to check in and ask specifically about their level of enthusiasm for the job and any different needs they have (at least at the 30- and 90-day point). In between these review periods, remember to stop by just to say how pleased you are to have them back on the team.
According to Janelle Rodriguez, Paychex HR Consultant and Rushell Greaves, Paychex Senior HR Generalist, boomerang employees are becoming more common in today’s workplace. As an employer, here are a few key points to consider when hiring a former employee:
- Rehires often times require very little or no training to help get them up to par and could be able to hit the ground running. This perspective is very attractive for employers because fewer training hours are dedicated to the new hire and there could be a shorter learning curve.
- The return employee could have established contacts or network internally and/or externally that could be of value to the organization.
- Consider the reason for the former employee exiting the organization originally? Was it an amicable exit? Is the individual eligible for rehire?
- Why are they returning? Does the organization value loyalty? Is this employee trying to fill a gap in their career? Do their professional goals coincide with that of the organization?
- Consider performance history, length of time way from the organization.
- Has the individual acquired new skills, education and additional assets that could be of value to the organization?
- How is the individual going to manage their behavior upon returning to the organization? Are they going to have an attitude of entitlement or lax work ethic? Able to avoid any preconceived notions from existing employees?
- Now that the individual is trying to return to the organization, is there a cultural fit? What contributions did this individual make to the cultural awareness of the organization prior to the departure, were they positive? Are they a good fit now?
There's an element of risk with any new hire. If you have difficulty recruiting for a certain position, the right "boomerang" employee may be the solution to your problem.