The benefits of boomerang employees
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The benefits of boomerang employees

Talent Management

The benefits of boomerang employees

March 01, 2017 Geoffroy De Lestrange

The term "boomerang employee" covers an increasingly frequent occurrence: employees returning to their former employer.

For previous generations, it was a case that you would enter a company to make a career and progress up the job ladder, but in the Generation Y model, employees change jobs four to five times over the course of their career, and experience more businesses. 

Returning to an organisation a few months or years after leaving can often cause confusion, or even mistrust amongst employees who stayed on at the company. On the boomerang employee's side, the approach is not necessarily obvious; it seems counter-intuitive to go back to a former workplace once a page has been turned. But in hindsight, hiring these so-called boomerang employees is an opportunity for both the employer and the employee.

Who are these boomerang employees?

Boomerang employees should be those who left the company on good terms after a few years, so this excludes redundancies. They may have taken advantage of unique opportunities to develop their skills, they may have taken interesting positions in other companies, or taken some on personal projects. 

The Corporate Culture and Boomerang Employee Study examined this growing phenomenon, with the results showing that 76% of HR employees say they accept the idea of hiring boomerang employees more so now than previously. The study also found that 15% of employees have already returned to a former employer, and 40% are considering doing so. What’s more,  85% of HR professionals have received applications from former employees over the past five years, and 40% of them have responded to half of the recruitment requests.

Re-hiring former employees presents a variety of benefits, both for the employee and the company. The employee returns to an environment where they have already forged a strong bond and often find themselves in a higher position compared to when they left. The company, on its part, realises they are saving time and money as they do not need to go through an onboarding process. It is commonly accepted that the departure and replacement of an employee generates a cost equivalent to one year's salary (through recruitment, training, loss of skills, productivity, etc.).  This is an excellent reason to consider a boomerang employee, who, by definition, shows a certain attachment to the corporate culture.

The challenge for HR is to maintain a connection with the top performing employees who leave. Progress remains to be made in this area. According to the same study, half of the managers interviewed did not notice a communication strategy designed for alumni, suggesting the creation of alumni communities should be a major focus for HR in the years to come.

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