Millions of people left their jobs in the last few years, hoping to find greener grass on the other side. The “Great Resignation,” also called the Great Renegotiation or the Great Reshuffle, saw nearly 4.5 million people quit per month on average between November 2021 and April 2022.
Some employees realize they left a good thing and may want to return to the job they left. Should you rehire a boomerang employee? As it so often is in accounting, the answer is “it depends.”
What are boomerang employees?
Boomerang employees are people who once worked for your company, left for another company or even another career path and now want to return. The reasons for leaving could be personal (to raise children or due to a spouse’s relocation), financial (they received an offer for a higher salary), or situational (they felt the environment was unhealthy and unsupportive).
According to a survey conducted by UKG, 43% of people who quit their jobs during the pandemic regret their decision. And many want to get their old jobs back, which could benefit your firm if you—like many others—struggle to find talent.
Benefits of rehiring boomerang employees
Rehiring boomerang employees can provide several benefits, including:
- Familiarity with the company’s operations. With existing knowledge of your firm and its workings, you’ll spend less time training new employees. If they return to the same position and the culture remains unchanged, it can feel like they never left.
- You know the employee’s skills. Applicants skilled at interviewing can tell you what you want to hear but don’t have the follow-through when working the position. There’s a level of comfort when hiring someone you know has skill because you’ve seen them in action.
- Improved team morale. Having a former employee return to the fold is a testament to your firm’s culture, which can help build team morale.
- Provide a fresh perspective. If a boomerang employee worked for a competitor after leaving your firm, they may bring new ideas, experiences or skills to your firm upon returning.
Considerations for boomerang employees
Before rehiring boomerang employees, it’s essential to consider why they left and their motivation for returning.
First, consider the reasons the employee left the firm initially. This might not be a concern if they left due to personal reasons, such as needing to care for a family member or relocate for a spouse’s job. However, if they left because they were unhappy with a manager, their career trajectory or firm culture, has the environment changed since then? If not, why do they think this is an environment they can succeed in now?
Also, consider the reasons the employee is looking for a job again. Did they have similar issues in the new firm? If so, you could be setting yourself up to repeat history.
When rehiring a former employee, they may expect to return to a position they were in before (or higher). However, consider how your firm has changed since they left. Have there been any changes in your organizational structure, technology, processes or policies? If so, you should be clear about those changes.
Important topics to discuss include:
- Company culture. Discuss how things may have changed since the employee last worked for you. Have you improved things based on employee recommendations? Has there been a management change or any other essential changes the employee should understand?
- Technology and processes. There may be new technologies or processes to discuss depending on how long it’s been since the employee worked for you. Don’t let a returning employee assume they can pick up right where they left off if that’s not the case.
- Pay. A returning employee will likely expect a pay bump to return to your firm. Be clear about what you can offer and discuss how the job expectations fit into the pay structure.
Strategies to effectively rehire boomerang employees
Rehiring boomerang employees can feel like an easy solution because they already know the firm and position. Still, certain strategies can improve your chances for a successful reconnection.
- Set parameters. Consider setting parameters for which employees are eligible for rehire and which are not. Knowing what you know about them, would you hire them if they never worked for your firm?
- Review employee records. Don’t rely on your memory of an employee’s performance to determine if you should rehire them. Review past employee reviews and performance metrics to ensure they fit well.
- Involve new managers in the decision. If your company experiences any management changes, include them in rehiring decisions. Get their feelings for the employee’s goals and motivation. They’re likely less biased since they don’t have a history with the employee.
- Discuss company and employee future goals. No matter how long it’s been since the employee worked for you, discuss how your firm has changed and ask the employee what their goals are to ensure it’s still a good fit.
Boomerang employees offer many benefits to your firm, mainly because they are already familiar with the firm, technology, process and company culture.
However, if it’s been a while since they’ve worked for your firm or your firm went through a rapid growth phase, there could be more disconnect than either party anticipates.
Before rehiring an employee, have an in-depth interview, as you would with a new applicant, offering as many specifics as possible regarding how the firm or position has changed. Ensuring you’re still a good fit for one another can save a lot of frustration—for both sides—down the road.
Sandra Wiley, Shareholder and President of Boomer Consulting, Inc., is a leader in the accounting profession with a passion for helping firms grow, adapt and thrive.