Sweet Reunion? Why ‘Boomerang Employees’ Can be a Smart Hire

Posted on February 2016 By Lechée De Chavez
Boomerang Employees

​ Traditionally, rehiring an employee who has left your firm is viewed in the same way as reigniting a failed relationship – there is a reason it didn’t work out the first time, so why try again?

But are we speaking too soon when it comes to those who return to the fold? Surely time, perspective and a realisation that the grass isn’t always greener can make a previous employee value what they had the first time around – bringing with them the added bonus of more experience, new or updated skills.

In the annual Forbes Online blog, 10 Workplace Trends, Boomerang Employees top the list, but what exactly is a Boomerang Employee? Author Dan Schawbel describes them as someone who leaves a company only to return later, a decision that is typically based on compensation, opportunity or family affairs.

At Speller, we are well versed in dealing with employees like this in our very own office. Just last year, Mary Vidovich returned after a four year stint elsewhere. She returned in a senior role, bringing fresh ideas and an enthusiasm that invigorated the team. Mary had formed a great working relationship with her colleagues the first time she worked at Speller, so she was welcomed with excited and open arms for her return!

Our Boomerang story is one of a success, so if you are considering rehiring a previous employee, we’ve collated a list of things to think about to ensure your story has a positive outcome for both you and the employee:

Reflect on the first time

It’s important to reflect on why they left in the first place. Obviously rehiring someone who didn’t perform in the role well or who left on bad terms wouldn’t be wise, but some of the seemingly insignificant reasons they left that can have a big impact on their job satisfaction the second time around. It should be noted that this highlights the value of an exit interview – more on that at a later date.

Was it lack of career progression – and has that changed now? Was it flexibility in the workplace – do you offer that now? Whatever the reason, if the issue is still there (or has the potential to become an issue again, as in the case of career progression) then rehiring them is not the best idea for either of you. If there is no obvious red flag, then consider the next point….

Company/Team Culture

As with any new hire, you need to think about how an addition to the team would impact the company culture. If they were a strong team player and someone liked by the team previously, their return could recharge the office and the current team, as they will be excited about working with that person again. It’s important to ask your staff how that person really fit in the first time round – sometimes how it looks from a management perspective can be different to the reality.

If they weren’t considered a great contributor to the team for their first stint at the company, how has that team changed since then? Did they clash with someone who now no longer works in the team/ company? There is a chance that the new dynamic, if you’ve had several new employees since they left, could actually work better with your boomerang employee.

Reduced time to train and on-board

The obvious benefit of rehiring a former employee, be it in an ongoing basis or as a contractor, is that they know your organisation. They know who’s who, how the company runs, the products/services you offer and the ins and outs of your organisation.

If you know your boomerang employee is going to fit into the company/team culture well and that the reason they left the first time is not likely to be a factor once they return, then the added benefit of rehiring them is the time and money you will save. Unless the company has undergone drastic changes in the time since they left, then the transition period for a boomerang employee is greatly reduced. They require less formal training and instead should receive more of a ‘handover’ style induction to get them up to speed on what’s new/changed in the time they were gone.

Like any new hire, thought and consideration needs to be put into what benefits this new person can bring to the team and wider organisation and how they will contribute to your company culture. A boomerang employee has the opportunity to add to your firm in unique and valuable ways – if you give them the opportunity.