What Is A Boomerang Employee?

The concept of a boomerang employee might conjure up images of a literal boomerang – something that leaves and then circles back. In the context of the workplace, it has a similar meaning.

A boomerang employee is someone who leaves a company, their former employer, but then later returns to work for them again. This phenomenon is becoming increasingly common, especially in the wake of the pandemic, where many employees left their full-time jobs to pursue new opportunities, care for family members, or simply re-evaluate their career paths.

When An Employee Leaves, Why Might They Come Back?

Boomerang employees were more common in seasonal industries like retail or hospitality, where employees might return for peak periods after leaving for school or other commitments. Now, however, we’re seeing boomerang hires across various sectors.

This trend can be attributed to several factors, including the changing nature of work. People are more likely to leave a job to pursue a new skill or experience, furthering their career path, rather than a permanent break from the company entirely.

With the rise of platforms like LinkedIn, former employees can easily stay connected with their previous employer, making it easier to reconnect for potential new job opportunities that align with their current skillset and career goals.

3 Benefits of Boomerang Employees

Hiring boomerang employees can offer significant advantages for both the company and the returning worker. Here’s why:

Reduced Onboarding Costs

Since boomerang employees already have a foundation of knowledge about the company culture, onboarding is often smoother and less expensive for HR professionals. They already understand the company’s mission, values, and work environment, allowing them to hit the ground running and contribute more quickly. This frees up valuable time and resources for HR to focus on integrating new hires who may not have any prior experience with the company.

Retention Boost

Employees return because they had a positive experience previously, indicating strong employee morale and a positive work environment. This familiarity with the company, its policies, and its team members can lead to increased employee retention overall. Boomerangs are likely to be more engaged and productive as they don’t need to spend as much time learning the ropes.

New Skills and Perspectives

While a returning employee brings back valuable company knowledge, they also bring new skills and perspectives gained from their time elsewhere. This exposure to different work environments, processes, and technologies can be invaluable to the company, fostering innovation and problem-solving within the team.

Making Boomerang Hires a Success

While boomerang employees can be a valuable asset, there are considerations for HR professionals to ensure a successful return:

Clear Communication

During the hiring process, HR professionals should have open conversations about the employee’s reasons for leaving and returning. This helps address any unresolved issues and sets expectations for this go-around. Understanding the employee’s motivations allows HR to tailor the onboarding process and ensure a smooth transition back into the company.

Streamlined Onboarding

While onboarding may be faster, it shouldn’t be skipped entirely by team leaders and human resources teams. Update the returning employee (boomerang worker) on any changes in company culture, policies, team dynamics, or new technologies implemented since their departure. This could include updates on software, processes, or even new team members and current employees they may not be familiar with.

Focus on Integration

Returning employees may need time to re-acclimate to the team and work environment. HR can facilitate introductions to new team members and ensure the returning worker feels welcomed and supported. This might involve setting them up with a mentor or buddy system to help them get back up to speed quickly.

Building a Strong Alumni Network

By fostering positive relationships with former employees (previous employees), companies can create a robust talent pool for future boomerang hires. Here’s how:

Exit Interviews

HR should use exit interviews to gather feedback on the employee experience and stay on good terms with departing employees. This allows companies to identify areas for improvement and potentially address any issues that might contribute to employee turnover.

Stay Connected

Encourage former employees to connect on LinkedIn or through a dedicated company alumni network. This allows for ongoing communication and keeps former employees apprised of new opportunities that might be a good fit for their skillset and career goals.

Consider Perks

Offering benefits like discounts on company products or services to former employees can keep them connected and engaged with the company. This could also include invitations to company events or webinars, demonstrating the company’s continued interest in their professional development.

In today’s dynamic job market, where talent acquisition is a top priority for many companies, boomerang employees are a valuable resource to consider.

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