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Forbes® named the acceptance of boomerang employees as one of its “10 Workplace Trends You’ll See in 2016.” According to Forbes, a boomerang employee is “one that leaves a company only to return later.” In the past, the practice of rehiring employees was frowned upon. In fact, 48 percent of employers had policies in place prohibiting the rehire of past employees. Today, however, this mindset has changed, and three in four companies cite that they are more accepting of this practice.

While only about 15 percent of employees boomerang back to their old jobs, 40 percent say they would consider doing so. What’s more, slightly more than half of human resource (HR) professionals and managers say they give high or very high priority to former employees who left under good conditions. Familiarity, easier training and insider knowledge are just some of the reasons why. Companies considering boomerang workers for their applicant pool may want to explore the benefits and challenges of this trend as well as strategies that focus on maintaining relationships with past employees.

Pros and cons of boomerang employees

  • Prior knowledge: Boomerang employees bring familiarity about an organization, its culture, and its policies and practices. Consequently, they require less training than a rookie.
  • New skills: Some boomerangs left to further their career (when they couldn’t do so in their current position). Those who did and come back to a higher-level position bring their newfound skills and knowledge.
  • The grass wasn’t greener: Employees generally leave for a reason. If the reason they left has not been mitigated, it may impact job satisfaction (and they may boomerang again).
  • Baggage: One in three HR professionals say that boomerang workers bring with them a stigma; in other words, they may be more at risk to jump ship.

If you’re looking to stay in touch with past employees, several strategies may help you maintain relationships.

  • Exit interviews: Exit interviews are a great place to build bridges. Let good employees know the door is always open should circumstances change. Be sure to distribute contact information before an exit, too. Attach a business card to a small parting gift, such as a pen set or travel mug. Getting contact info from those leaving and sharing it with your team (if permission is granted) is a great way for everyone to maintain relationships.
  • Social media: Stay connected with past employees on Facebook® and LinkedIn®. Monitor social media activities and interact with comments and likes. Recognize past employee accomplishments with an online or handwritten note of congratulations. You may even want to recognize milestones, such as promotions or the birth of a child, with a small gift—consider a box of chocolate truffles or a baby blanket.
  • Network: Often, your professional network is an excellent source for new hires. Find out who is interested in your company, whether they are new or boomerang employees, by keeping your eyes and ears open.

Try one or more of these tips to keep in touch with those who may be potential boomerang employees. Who knows who might come walking through your door?

Schawbel, Dan. “10 Workplace Trends You’ll See In 2016.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 01 Nov. 2015. Web. Retrieved 19 Apr. 2016.

The Corporate Culture And Boomerang Employee Study.” Workplace Trends. N.p., 01 Sept. 2015. Web. Retrieved 19 Apr. 2016.

Hannon, Kerry. “Welcome Back: Boomerang Employees Are On The Rise.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 07 Sept. 2015. Web. Retrieved 19 Apr. 2016.”

Melhuish, Robyn. “The Best and Worst Times to Rehire Former Employees.” ERE Media. N.p., 24 Sept. 2015. Web. Retrieved 19 Apr. 2016.


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