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Five reasons to hire a boomerang employee

By Derek Smith


It’s no longer commonplace for an employee to stay with one organization for their entire career, nor is it likely they will have just one career throughout their years of employment.

Today’s top talent is open to change and wants to be constantly challenged, educated and upskilled.

In pursuit of this, they’re inclined to explore opportunities in new departments, organizations and even industries.

Progressive hiring managers have taken note and are seeing the value in the untraditional moves taken to advance professionally and personally, including working for a competitor, setting up a side business or even returning to a workplace they previously left.

Those who do the latter have been coined “boomerang employees” and are particularly valuable to your talent pipeline. Here are five reasons why.


1. They understand your company

Recruiting and hiring is expensive and new employees rarely hit the ground running on their first day – or their first week, for that matter. Bringing a previous employee back into the fold means they’ll be productive faster because they already know the ins and outs of the company. However, what’s most valuable is their understanding of company culture, values and goals – they’ve been part of the “family” before and generally know how to work with their colleagues.

2. You know their strengths and weaknesses

Asking the right questions throughout the interview process and conducting thorough background checks helps identify suitable candidates, but you’ll only learn the intricacies of an employee’s strengths and weaknesses once they’re in the role. The benefit of hiring a boomerang employee is that you already have a sense of how and when they perform best. You can position them in a department and role best suited to their skills and qualities, ensuring the business benefits from the employee, and the latter experiences personal growth.


3. They’re even better than they were before

Accept that the best talent won’t stay with your organization forever and that by pursuing new opportunities, these employees are developing their skills and gaining insights your company can leverage to improve and grow. Think about it: boomerang employees know how other companies operate and can offer suggestions on how yours can be better (or confirm that what you’re already doing is effective). A returning employee’s new skillset can also amplify the areas you need to develop your existing team. If your organization operates in the same industry as the company that the employee left you for, it may become quite apparent that you need to invest in training for the skills they now have but your other employees don’t.

4. They know the grass isn’t always greener

We’re all guilty of taking our employers for granted at some point in our careers, and maybe even fantasizing about what it would be like to work for another. In the case of boomerang employees, they’ve been there, done that – now they’re back and it’s likely because they put a higher value on your organization than the one they joined. This time around, they will be more inclined to stay as they presumably no longer think the grass is greener on the other side.


5. It can be a huge boost to morale

Seeing someone who left to embark on “bigger and better things” return because it didn’t match the experience they had at your organization can have a positive impact on staff morale, particularly if the employee was well-liked and respected. For example, this boomerang employee can provide peers with their perspective of what it’s like working for another organization and placate perceived irritations with your company.


Do your due diligence

While the benefits of hiring a boomerang employee are clear, it’s important to do your due diligence before extending an offer of employment – just as you would with any other hire.

Consider the amount of time that has lapsed since you worked with the employee and probe their motivation for returning. If they’re interested in a different position from the one they previously held, confirm that they’ve gained the skills and experience necessary to be successful in the role – while they may be a good cultural fit, they still need to be able to fulfill the duties required.

Reference checking is important, even in the case of boomerang employees. The process may not be as extensive as with an outside candidate, but following up with a recent employer or colleague is essential to verifying details shared by the candidate. While it’s likely that they’re still the great employee you remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Derek Smith is the general manager for Xref North America.



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