Boomerang Employees: The Rising Trend of Rehiring Employees
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What are Boomerang Employees?

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A boomerang employee is someone who leaves an organization, whether for a new job, to pursue further education, or for other personal reasons, and then later returns to work for the same company. 

The return of these employees can be beneficial for both the individual and the organization as they come with some unique advantages and a few challenges to consider.

What are the Main Characteristics of Boomerang Employees?

Boomerang employees have several noteworthy characteristics that distinguish them from traditional hires or employees. 

Understanding these characteristics can help employers and HR professionals effectively manage and integrate boomerang employees back into the organization. 

1. Previous Employment with the Organization

As mentioned above, boomerang employees are individuals who return to work for a former employer after having left the company for a period. Meaning, they re-enter the organization with a wealth of prior knowledge and experience specific to that workplace. 

Their familiarity with the company’s culture, policies, processes, and even the existing team members can be a significant advantage. 

Such pre-existing knowledge eases their transition back into the company. It also contributes to quicker productivity rates compared to new hires who might need more time to acclimate. Their existing familiarity with the company culture, people, and work processes also enables them to skip the lengthy orientation phases.

2. Period of Separation

The period of separation for boomerang employees means the time spent away from their former employer before deciding to return. 

During this interval, individuals may pursue different career opportunities, further their education, or seek personal growth experiences. This gap provides these employees with fresh perspectives or additional skills that they can bring back to the table. 

The time away also allows both the employee and the employer to reassess the mutual value of their relationship. This often leads to a more committed and productive re-engagement.

3. Varied Reasons for Leaving

Understanding why former employees want to return is important for organizations. This insight helps address any issues or changes since they left.

Boomerang employees leave their organizations for various reasons ranging from career advancement, seeking better pay, changes in life circumstances, to pursuing education. 

The diversity in their reasons for leaving shows that the departure is not always due to dissatisfaction with the former employer. 

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4. Voluntary Return to the Company

The decision by boomerang employees to return to a former employer is made voluntarily. It usually signifies a positive reflection on the organization. Regardless of the reason, the return of these individuals often suggests a strong and enduring connection to the company. 

In a way, it affirms that the company is considered as a desirable place to work, even by those who have experienced working elsewhere.

5. Potential for Advanced Skills and Perspective

During their time away from the company, boomerang employees likely acquire new skills and gain broader experiences. This period of growth means they can return to their former employer with enhanced capabilities, and bring valuable insights, innovative ideas, and possibly even new networks. 

This helps inject fresh energy and perspectives into the organization, potentially driving improvements and efficiencies within teams and projects.

6. Known Quantities

Boomerang employees are often described as known quantities. This implies that the employer is already familiar with their performance, work ethic, and compatibility with the company’s culture. The familiarity reduces the risks and uncertainties typically associated with hiring new staff. 

Knowing their work history and character also allows employers to make more informed decisions about how to position these individuals within the organization effectively..

7. Proven Cultural Fit

A proven cultural fit is crucial for ensuring smooth team dynamics and maintaining a cohesive work environment. This can positively impact overall team morale and productivity.

Boomerang employees’ past experience with the company shows they fit well with its culture. Their familiarity with company values and practices means their return will likely face fewer issues in blending with the work culture here.

8. Ambassadors of Organizational Loyalty

Boomerang employees can act as powerful ambassadors for the company, both internally and externally. Their stories and experiences, especially the reasons for their return, can inspire current employees and attract potential talent by highlighting the company’s strengths for career growth and satisfaction. 

This loyalty can also help enhance the employer’s brand and reputation in the job market.

Boomerang Employees: Weighing the Benefits Against the Challenges

Let us compare  the benefits and challenges of boomerang employees on a one-on-one level.

1. Reduced Onboarding Time and Costs vs. Overlooking Past Issues

Boomerang employees bring the advantage of already understanding the company culture and operational procedures, which translates to significant savings on training and onboarding. They can hit the ground running much quicker than new hires.

However, the ease of reintegration might cause managers to overlook or dismiss past performance issues or the reasons why the employee left initially. This could lead to recurring problems that were not addressed adequately.

2. Known Work Ethic and Compatibility vs. Potential for Old Habits

With a track record with the company, boomerang employees are a known quantity in terms of their work ethic, capabilities, and how they fit into the team dynamic, reducing the risk associated with hiring.

However, if the employee previously exhibited less than ideal habits or there were unresolved issues, there’s a risk these could resurface. Without addressing these matters proactively, the same friction points could emerge, thus affecting team performance.

3. Fresh Perspectives and Skills vs. Blocked Opportunities for New Talent

Returning employees often bring back valuable new skills, perspectives, and potentially a broader understanding of industry practices they’ve acquired elsewhere.

However, opting for a known former employee might limit the opportunity for fresh external talent to bring in new ideas and energy. 

This can also stagnate the infusion of innovative approaches and diverse perspectives that new employees can offer.

4. Positive Impact on Team Morale vs. Perception of Favoritism

The return of a well-liked coworker can boost team morale, indicating to current employees that the company is a desirable place to work.

However, this can also create perceptions among the team that the returning employee is receiving special treatment or favoritism. This can affect the team dynamic and even lead to resentment or decreased motivation among other employees.

5. Advocacy and Loyalty vs. Employee Expectations

Boomerang employees can act as strong advocates for the company, demonstrating through their return that it is a positive and appealing place to work. Their renewed commitment can also translate into greater loyalty and long-term retention.

However, these returning individuals might have high expectations for their career trajectory, salary, or changes in the workplace upon their return. 

If these expectations are not met or managed properly, there can be discontent or a quick turnover, possibly ending more sourly than the first departure.

Hence, balancing the benefits against the challenges requires a clear-eyed assessment of the returning employee’s fit, the circumstances of their departure, and the current needs of the organization. 

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Boomerang employees are redefining the traditional concepts of career trajectory and organizational loyalty. The diminishing taboo associated with departing and subsequently returning to an employer offers both parties new opportunities for growth. 

That said, the effectiveness of welcoming back former employees also depends on their past performance. It requires a sophisticated grasp of both the advantages and the challenges inherent in reintroducing these individuals to the corporate environment. 

To optimize the gains and address possible issues, it is crucial for employers to create a comprehensive policy on boomerang hires, thus paving the way for a successful  reentry. And it would be best to let a reputed global hiring agency like Tarmack do the needful for your business.

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