Boomerang Employees: What’s Their Worth & How to Retain Them

March 8, 2016
| ByMadison

They could be leading your department; perhaps you have one on your team; or maybe you’re one of them. We’re talking about Boomerang Employees, those who leave an organization and return to their former employer, and they’re on the rise. With retention being a top issue for HR leaders, it’s no wonder boomerang employees are more desirable today than they were even just five years ago. The battle for top talent is fierce, and they know it. This gives them the confidence to knock on your door once more, and it seems to be working. But why should you consider hiring them, and what can you do to make them feel at home again?

They have specialized skills that you need.

Hunting for that unique professional who has the skills, talents and experience you need can be a costly and daunting endeavor. If you’re in a niche industry, then that search can be even more challenging as you seek experts in a specialized area. You could spend months looking for the right candidate, or you could rehire someone you know possesses the precise mix of skills for that specific role.

They have new skills and competitive intelligence.

By stepping away from your company, the former employee could return with a fresh perspective. It’s likely that they have also learned new skills that can help improve your process or approach, as well as valuable information about a competitor’s strengths, weaknesses and strategies.

They understand your business.

A large part of that mix of skills is the former employee’s knowledge of your unique business. Due to their previous experience with your company, boomerang employees require less training and on-boarding time and will be able to start showing results sooner, rather than later.

They know your culture.

Unless your organization has made a radical change culturally, boomerang employees know what to expect in the workplace, which to some degree means they accept you as you are.

They’ve learned from the “grass is always greener on the other side of the fence” syndrome.

Leaving a position for another company or another role because it seems like it’s better than the current situation is one of the most common reasons why employees leave companies. When the grass doesn’t turn out to be greener at another organization, this actually benefits you. The boomerang employee returns with a greater appreciation for your company and a stronger sense of loyalty after experiencing another culture that didn’t live up to their expectations.

Either they’ve changed, or your organization has changed.

If a former employee left for a specific reason, it’s unlikely it will work the second time around unless things have changed. That’s why it’s important to get to the bottom of why they really left the company in the first place.

Welcome back. Where do we go from here?

When a former employee returns to your organization, it’s an opportunity for both sides to get it right the second time around. Once you’ve rehired an employee, you’ve communicated that you need their skills, but now you also have to communicate that you appreciate their skills. Boomerang employees respond best to multi-faceted social recognition strategies that leverage peer-to peer, manager discretionary and service programs. Through recognition, you reaffirm they made the right decision returning to your organization and you improve the chance of retaining them this time.

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