Hiring Boomerang Employees: The Pros and the Cons

By hire-up in Industry Resources

Leah Perez

VP of Major Accounts

Hire Up Staffing & Healthcare Services


April 5, 2021

With the increased interest in temporary work, our team at Hire Up Staffing & Healthcare Services is actively working to serve the needs of both organizations and job seekers at a record pace. We make a living connecting the skills and abilities of qualified candidates to the needs of partnering organizations around the country. Our business is about creating and maintaining connections.

In the connections business, we are no stranger to familiar faces. In fact, we have built a business around serving them. Whether we are supporting an organization with filling roles as needed over the years or assisting with the placement of a known and highly vetted candidate who prefers temporary assignments, knowing the needs of both are what make our connections successful.  Ensuring that every connection becomes a familiar one has helped us best serve our clients and become one of the country’s leading staffing organizations.

While we thrive on building relationships that create familiarity, it is not always something organizations see as a positive when it comes to boomerang employees. Are you familiar with the term? A boomerang employee is one who voluntarily leaves an organization and is later rehired.  There are mixed reviews on boomerang employees. And, while each boomerang employee has a unique set of circumstances for why they left and their reasons for wanting to return, it is important to consider the pros and the cons before rehiring them.

The Pros of a Boomerang Employee:

  • Predictability, Less Risk, and Known Position Fit: You know their talents and the quality of their work. Rehiring an employee with whom you are familiar may feel like a safer bet than searching for a new employee with similar experience and unknown work quality.
  • A Known Culture Fit: They know your company culture…and want to return. This sends a powerful message to customers and other employees alike that your culture is one in which employees WANT to work.
  • Lower Training and Onboarding Costs:  While an obvious perk, it is an important one to consider; it takes less time and money to acclimate a boomerang rehire as opposed to a brand-new employee. They are familiar with the work, the policies, and the processes associated with it.
  • Faster Productivity than a New Hire: Given that there is less need for a boomerang employee to have a comprehensive training plan, they are faster to perform the job’s duties.
  • New-Found Skills, Abilities, Perspective: A boomerang employee may return with a new perspective and outlook. They may have acquired additional knowledge and skill. This new perspective may also bring a refreshed set of eyes and new ideas. If a boomerang employee left to work for the competition and returned to you, they bring back a different perspective on the work and likely valuable market information.
  • New Perspective Can Bring New-Found Loyalty: Depending upon their reason for leaving, a rehired employee can see the differences between your company and the other they worked with for a time. There are valuable lessons in learning the grass is not always greener.
  • Important Connections with Specific Customers/Clients: An employee who has previously worked for you and left voluntarily likely created key relationships with many valued customers. A returning familiar face can help re-establish customer relationships and trust.
  • An Opportunity to Build Upon Development: This employee left previously for some reason; be sure you feel confident in the reason(s) why. Rehiring an employee is an opportunity for you to identify ways to better cultivate their development and ensure they remain engaged, challenged, and heard. You may choose to have a meeting with them and discuss what frustrated them in the past and search for ways to find solutions and a mutual agreement to a fresh start.

The Cons of a Boomerang Employee:

  • Unmet Expectations Can Build Resentment:
    1. The potentially rehired employee may expect to return to the organization just as they left, expecting the same pay and accrual rates for vacation/PTO.
    2. Do you have a rehire policy regarding reinstatement criteria?
    3. These details need to be determined and addressed before the rehire offer is made. Consider that if your offer is lower than what they were previously making, this may result in silent resentment, leading to future performance issues and/or job dissatisfaction.
    4. The potentially rehired employee may expect things within your organization to be the same as when they left. Changes to an organizational structure or work processes may be difficult for them to understand and buy into, creating resistance to change and dissatisfaction with their job.
  • Negative Impact on Morale: In addition to the potential resentment a rehired employee may have for changes they find upon returning, consider the impact this rehire could have on your current employees’ morale. The team may question why this person was brought back. Members of the team likely worked harder for a time in their immediate absence.
  • Shorter Longevity: Boomerang employees require less training and can show higher performance than newly hired employees right out of the gate. However, in a study conducted by John D. Arnold and a team of collaborators, published in the Journal of Management, boomerang employees have a higher turnover rate than internal or external hires.

Additional Things to Consider:

  • Best Predictor of Future Behavior is Past Behavior: This boomerang employee left previously for some reason; if you are not aware of the reason(s) behind their previous departure and do nothing to investigate why, you are setting yourself up for a repeat performance, be it good or bad. You will want to have an idea of what this could look like before they are rehired.
    1. Review their Records, Not Just Your Memory:  Recall why they left, the circumstances, and lessons learned.  Review their Exit Interview. Talk to their managers. Rehires have the potential to bring back positive attributes to your organization. However, they also can negatively influence your team by bringing back with them poor performance habits.
  • Over the Years, HR Professionals have Eased Up on the Idea of Rehiring Boomerang Employees: In a 2015 SHRM article, Attitude on Rehiring Boomerang Employees Changing, “Three-fourths of HR professionals and 65% of managers say they are more accepting of hiring boomerang employees than they used to be, revealing a changing mindset about these individuals.”
  • ***Hire Up Pro Tip***: If you are confident about your organization’s culture—CELEBRATE IT and do so by celebrating with former employees who remain loyal to your brand! Establish an alumni alliance for your company. This group can serve as valuable advocates and as an extension of your marketing team. Staying connected through an alumni group creates lifetime loyalty, regardless of whether they are on the payroll or not. It also creates a pool of happy connections that could help you fill future roles within your organization. Your specialized group of influencers can assist you by:
    1. Talking up an exciting opportunity you have available within your organization.
    2.  Referring someone they think would love the job!
    3.  Reapplying for a new position with a company they know and love!

See the benefits for yourself! Start an alumni group if your company does not yet have one.

The Rehire Choice is Yours

Research and studies help highlight trends but obviously do not highlight every outcome. Each employee brings with them their own unique skillsets, abilities, and circumstances. The purpose of sharing this information is to assist you with making the best-informed choice for your organization. Every employer has a glowing example of a time a boomerang employee worked well, and most could share about a time when they may have made a different decision if given that same opportunity again.

But remember this: Steve Jobs, Lebron James, and Michael Jordan are all examples of boomerang employees. While your boomerang employees may not be household names, the right rehire could become a megastar in your workplace if properly reintroduced into your organization. The choice is yours, and it is an important one.

Not sure where you stand on this topic? Conflicted about whether you want to rehire a known candidate or start fresh with someone new? We can help! Contact Hire Up Staffing & Healthcare Services and allow us to work with you to find the best candidates for your current needs.

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There is no doubt that 2021 will bring forth opportunities to leverage new and emerging employment trends. Follow the Hire Up Staffing & Healthcare Services Blog to stay connected with a variety of topics aimed to help support you! Whether you are an active job seeker looking for tips and tricks to land your perfect job or an employer looking to fill a challenging position, we are here to help you HIRE UP!

References:

Boomerang Employees: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly – HR Daily Advisor (blr.com)

Should You Rehire an Employee Who Left Your Company? (hbr.org)Welcome Back? Job Performance and Turnover of Boomerang Employees Compared to Internal and External Hires – John D. Arnold, Chad H. Van Iddekinge, Michael C. Campion, Talya N. Bauer, Michael A. Campion, 2020 (sagepub.com)

employers need to know about boomerang employees (purdue.edu)

Attitude on Rehiring Boomerang Workers Changing (shrm.org)


Leah Perez, VP of Major Accounts | April 5, 2021

As the Vice President of Major Accounts, Leah focuses on national-level clients. Leah has over 16 years of recruiting experience in various industries from medical/clinical to administrative/accounting, all of which has launched her to being one of the most well-respected staffing leaders in California.  Clients and candidates would describe her as urgent, ethical, and most importantly, she takes the time to understand her client’s needs so she can properly assist them. Leah would love to speak with you so she can help your business reach new heights.

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