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Boomerang Workers: Would You Rehire a Former Employee?

When workers voluntarily leave the company, one would assume that the employee is leaving for better opportunities. However, in a tight labor market, rehiring former employees is becoming more popular among employers. But research finds that former employees are hesitant to go back.boomerang

The competitive hiring market has companies casting a wide net to find job candidates with the in-demand skills they need. A new Accountemps survey found that more than 9 in 10 senior managers (94%) are open to rehiring boomerang employees—staff members who previously left the company on good terms.

Rehiring Former Employees

The research, however, also revealed that former employees were not quite as eager for a reunion, with 52% of workers likely to apply for a position with a previous company. Reasons professionals cited for not wanting to return to past employers included dissatisfaction with management (22%), poor fit with organizational culture (17%), unfulfilling job duties (13%), and bridges burned by the company (11%).

“Companies need to leave no stone unturned in their search for talent in today’s competitive hiring environment,” says Michael Steinitz, Executive Director of Accountemps—in a press release announcing the findings. “Boomerang employees are an attractive option because the firm is already familiar with how they’ll perform and fit in with the organizational culture. Returning workers also require less training to get up to speed and may have acquired valuable new skills while they were gone.”

If you’re considering rehiring former employees to help fill the void, weigh these pros and cons first.

Pros and Cons to Rehiring Former Employees

Here are some of the potential advantages in rehiring an individual who has worked for your organization before:

  • The individual already knows a lot about the company culture and expectations. He or she also already knows a lot about the customers and working environment.
  • Depending on how long it has been since the individual left (and how much has changed), he or she likely still knows a lot about the organization’s systems and procedures. This may mean it takes less time to get up to speed and to full productivity. This is especially relevant for jobs with specialized skill sets that require a lot of training.
  • You already know a lot about how this individual is likely to perform and what strengths and weaknesses are in reality. There are fewer risks.
  • It may be an opportunity to bring back a star employee who left in the past.
  • The individual may be bringing back not only the knowledge set gained from having worked there in the past but also new experiences and skills that may be beneficial to the organization.
  • Morale may be boosted if current employees see that the organization is willing to bring back someone who worked there before, as it could show a commitment to the individual. This can be true even if that individual was fired (rather than quit)—as long as the firing was not for a reason that gives people pause now.

Despite all of these advantages, there are also potential drawbacks. Here are a few:

  • The individual may expect a significant amount of pay to be enticed to return.
  • There could be lingering personnel issues (such as disputes or misunderstandings with former coworkers) that quickly come back to the forefront.
  • This individual may be seen as more of a turnover risk since he or she has left in the past, especially if the reasons for the departure are still problems that have not been addressed. This may mean this new hire is a short-lived addition to the workforce.

Tips for Considering Rehiring a Former Employee

Once you’ve considered all the pros and cons, Steinitz advises that “[r]ehiring a former staff member may seem like a simple process, but it’s essential to understand why the person originally left and whether the issue has been resolved,” Steinitz adds, “The employee will not stay long if past problems keep resurfacing.” Accountemps offers these tips when considering a previous employee’s return:

Have a conversation. Before launching the formal hiring process with a former employee, check in on what they’re looking for from your company and ensure all previous issues have been addressed.

Conduct a formal interview. Follow all hiring procedures as you would with a new candidate. Perform reference checks (including the most recent employer) and have an in-depth discussion to ensure that a return would be beneficial for both parties.

Reorient the employee. If the person is rehired, have them go through the standard onboarding process to bring them up to speed on current company policies and processes.

Reassess skills. Managers should consider the returning employee’s updated experience to determine if they may be suited for new roles or responsibilities.