When one hears the word “boomerang,” the first thought that comes to mind is usually an Australian hunting tool, or a toy. The interesting thing about a boomerang is that it always comes back.
Now the word “boomerang” has been used to conceptualize ideas about returning children and returning employees. “Boomerang kids” are children that come back home to live with their parents after a period of independence. Similarly, “boomerang employees” are employees that come back to a workplace they left to work somewhere else for a period of time.
For many employers, the thought of bringing back a former employee is abhorrent; the immediate reaction is to think of the former employee as being disloyal for leaving in the first place. Research, however, is saying that there is value in re-hiring employees that have left an organization.
According to research by Robert Half, a company that has been providing recruitment and staffing solutions for over 70 years, 94% of senior managers would re-hire former employees, and 52% of former employees would consider returning to their previous workplaces. These are interesting statistics that HR professionals should consider.
In addition to the research above, another study out of the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School and Texas A&M University found the following list of advantages that resulted from re-hiring former employees:
- Boomerang employees save costs and allow a company to recoup some of its investment in recruiting, training, and developing new staff.
- Boomerang employees bring new perspectives acquired in other work environments, some of which may have come from working for a close competitor.
- Boomerang employees bring more social capital back to the firm.
- Boomerang employees tend to be more loyal upon their return than those who have never left.
While there is research that supports the value of boomerang employees, there may be some risks to consider as well. These risks are outlined in an article in the HR Daily Advisor: the employee may not be a good fit for the organization, they may be a job-hopper, or there may be an unresolved issue with them that was not adequately addressed or resolved in the past.
These potential risks must be weighed against the possible benefits of re-hiring a former employee. In a time of low unemployment, which North America is currently experiencing, HR departments may want to align with the thoughts of 94% of senior managers, and consider developing a formal boomerang re-hiring program.
Your HR Department has decided to consider developing a formal boomerang re-hiring program:
- What would be the first step in that program?
- How would you stay in touch with former employees?
- Develop a set of specific interview questions that you would ask to assess the prospect of re-hiring an employee. How would these questions differ from interview questions for a new candidate?