Why re-hiring matters

Topher Reynoso
January 21, 2024

In the evolving landscape of recruitment, an often underestimated source of talent exists right within your organization's history—the boomerang employee. These individuals, once part of your team, hold immense potential and bring unique benefits when they return. Embracing the concept of re-hiring previous employees can significantly impact your company's success and growth.

A recent Harvard Business Review study found that boomerang employees are on the rise, showing that 28% of new hires in a multi-year study were boomerang hires who had resigned within the previous 36 months. The same study found that, when re-hired, these boomerang employees were more likely to be managers than non-managers. There are definite advantages to having an employee re-enter your workforce. Their previous experience within the organization equips them with an understanding of its culture, processes, and objectives. This familiarity leads to quicker integration into teams and a faster ramp-up period, resulting in increased productivity.

Their decision to return often stems from positive experiences and a genuine connection with the company culture. This familiarity fosters a sense of belonging and commitment, contributing to higher retention rates as well. Research published in the Journal of Applied Psychology indicates that welcoming back boomerang employees positively influences overall company morale. It signals a supportive and inclusive culture, reinforcing the idea that the organization values its former employees. This fosters a sense of loyalty and belonging among both returning and current employees. When other employees see someone depart and come back the message they receive is often “be grateful you’re here, this place is worth staying at.” Research from Paychex shows that 80% of employees who left their jobs during The Great Resignation now regret it.

It’s not always just regret for these boomerang employees though, sometimes they have some key learnings during their time away. These individuals often acquire diverse experiences and skill enhancements from different workplaces, which they bring back upon their return. This diversity and influx of new perspectives contributes to a more innovative and adaptable workforce. 

Dan Schawbel, the managing partner at Workplace Intelligence, added this insight: “Organizations should consider giving hiring priority to potential boomerang employees who were a great cultural fit because they can reach a high productivity level quicker if rehired. In previous research we’ve done, we’ve found that Millennials are switching jobs every two years because they are searching for the job – and organization – of best fit. But this new study indicates that this younger generation is more likely to boomerang back when they’ve experienced other company cultures and realized what they've missed. We will see the boomerang employee trend continue in the future as more employees adopt a ‘free agent’ mentality and more organizations create a stronger alumni ecosystem.”

Studies conducted by Harvard Business Review suggest that re-hiring former employees can lead to cost savings of up to 50% in recruitment expenses compared to hiring new talent. Yarooms recently estimated that you could save up to $20,000 per one boomerang employee depending on their salary.  Boomerang employees require less investment in onboarding and training, resulting in a shorter time to productivity and cost efficiency for the organization.

In today’s competitive job market, recognizing the untapped potential of boomerang employees is crucial. Encouraging their return not only brings immediate value through their existing knowledge but also contributes to a more diverse and adaptable workforce. Cultivating a supportive culture that embraces the return of former team members can be a strategic advantage in attracting top talent and fostering long-term success.

But tapping into this potential means crafting an off-boarding experience that’s supportive, that makes employees feel valued on their way out. You can foster that even further by keeping in touch, by helping alumni remain in contact with each other and the company.

Reconsidering the value of those who've previously contributed to your company can open doors to a wealth of talent and possibilities. Embrace the boomerang effect and harness the power of returning employees for a more robust and thriving workplace.

Remember, the best hires might be those who've already walked through your doors once before and are excited for a triumphant return.

Topher Reynoso
January 21, 2024
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