This year will no doubt see many new trends and changes in the workplace. One trend that’s already creating buzz is the increase in boomerang employees. Boomerang employees leave their current employer, usually seeking to advance their career or a bump in salary, only to return to the same employer later. As younger generations enter the workforce and the average company tenure decreases, the boomerang employee trend will likely continue to grow.

This trend brings up the question of how companies should handle returning employees. In previous years, the tendency would have been to not rehire former employees, even if they left on amicable terms. Today most companies are friendlier towards boomerang employees. According to a recent study by The Workforce Institute at Kronos, 76 percent of HR professionals said they’re more accepting of hiring boomerang employees than before.

More companies are becoming open to the possibility of re-hiring former employees for logical reasons, like:

  1. Company familiarity.
    According to the study, 33 percent of HR professionals agreed that familiarity with the company culture is the biggest benefit to hiring boomerang employees. These employees know the ins and outs of the company, how things are done, and why. They’re familiar with company goals and strategic plans, which means they can hit the ground running.
  2. Less training required.
    About one-third of managers said they appreciate that former employees don’t require as much training as brand new ones. Boomerang employees are a return on the investment originally made when they were trained, plus they have the added benefit of bringing skills learned through training provided on another company’s dime as well.
  3. Young talent gets a second chance.
    The study also found that 46 percent of millennials would consider returning to a former employer. This is not surprising since millennials tend to spend an average of two years at a job — less than half the national rate of 4.6 years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That indicates that millennials might be leaving companies too soon, before reaching career milestones.

Companies that rehire boomerang employees can benefit from their familiarity and training, plus the fact that they get employees back who will work to realize their potential while helping meet the organization’s goals.

Boomerang employees are also having an impact on job seekers, albeit not a positive one. As if finding a new job wasn’t difficult enough, job seekers are facing tough competition from boomerang employees. Previous employees have an inside track to getting a job where they used to work — according to the survey, more than half of HR professionals said they give high priority to former employees who left in good standing. Furthermore, 85 percent said they have received applications from former employees, and 40 percent said they hired about half of the former employees who applied.

What can job seekers who are not former employees do to stay competitive? They can start by networking within the company they’re applying to since it gives them a chance to impress with their experience and skills. They should leverage all possible resources, including former coworkers, college alumni networks, friends and family. They can also consider applying to a company they already worked for. If it was an enjoyable work environment and they left in good standing, there may be well-suited opportunities for them, and they just may have an edge as boomerang employees.

Does your company ever hire boomerang employees?

Adina Miron

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