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Check out our weekly blog posts and see the latest news and discussions happening in the HR world of business.

Are Boomerang Employees Ever a Good Idea?

It’s a tale as old as time. You have a great employee who employee leaves for an amazing new job opportunity and then shows up again weeks, months or even years later in response to an open job posting.

Dubbed boomerang employees, these folks include previously hired employees who come back, perhaps because that amazing job wasn’t so amazing at all, or perhaps simply because the job they always coveted, but wasn’t available to them, at your company suddenly opens up and it feels like the right time to return.

But is it a good idea to hire them back? Below, we outline the pros and cons of rehiring a former employee.

Pros:

  • One of the best parts about rehiring a former employee is that they can generally ramp up to the role much quicker than someone who has never been a part of the company. If they worked in the same department and are simply taking on a different role – such as moving up as a manager – they already have a wonderful foundation and much of your training can focus on upskilling them in the areas that directly pertain to their new role as opposed to starting from scratch. In doing this, you can save both time and money and get a quicker return on your investment, even if you are paying that boomerang employee more than you did in their previous role.
  • When you hire someone from right off the street, your HR department might call their former employer to have them vouch for their general behavior or they may even get a written recommendation. However, when you hire a past employee, you have a wealth of data on their performance in the form of reviews and even conversations with their previous managers and/or coworkers. You can review their performance on any relevant aspects to their new role, as well as get insider information on how they are to work with and manage, which can prove invaluable in informing your decision-making process.
  • Another great perk to hiring a previous employee is that you already know they are a good cultural fit (unless, of course, them NOT being a good fit was the reason they left in the first place!) In addition to getting to remove those classes from their orientation, both you and your employee have a clearer idea of expectations for company norms, behavior, and communication styles. If you’ve ever hired what you thought was a star employee, only to find that they don’t mesh well with others or the company’s vision in general, you know just how important this factor can be to success.
  • Sometimes taking some time from the company – or simply trying a new role on for size – can broaden an employee’s skills and make them even MORE of an asset when they ultimately return to the company. If your employee is bringing with them new talents, certifications, or even just a brand-new perspective on your field or industry, they might just be even more desirable for the new role than they would have been if they had hung around.

Cons:

  • To quote Rachel Green from friends, “once a cheater, always a cheater!” What we mean here is that if the employee left once, what’s going to stop them from doing so again when the next bright and shiny opportunity comes along? Of course, with a boomerang employee, this is a credible risk and something that you should absolutely discuss during the interview process and in reviewing the job description so that folks can manage their own expectations about what the new role entails and how they will be expected to perform.
  • One of the biggest potential foibles of re-hiring is that you may be remembering their tenure at your company with rose-tinted glasses. For example, you might remember them as being passionate and tenacious, but it might be more likely that they would trample over everyone to hit their quarterly revenue goals or quick to anger. You can significantly reduce this risk if you check with their previous performance reviews to make sure you’re really bringing back who you think you are!


What you need to do before considering hiring back a boomerang:
Before you make the big decision to hire back an employee, you’ll have some work to do! Specifically, we recommend that you:

  • Review the employee’s previous performance reviews, looking specifically at any issues with their ability to perform in that role, their ability to mesh with their coworkers and especially their managers, and their fit with company culture. Even though some time has lapsed, you want to make sure that they’re still going to be a good fit for your needs.
  • Review the data gleaned from the exit interview to better understand the reason for their departure. A person who left to take time off to raise a family is far more likely to be a sound re-hire than the individual who left because the company couldn’t meet their salary demands.
  • Discuss the potential rehire with the team. Some employees may not look too kindly on a rehire or think that their only option to move up the career ladder is to leave and then come back. However, you can alter the narrative here and spin the rehire as bringing someone on board who is not only a great fit for the team but is already dialed in to the company and can ramp up quickly and begin providing value almost right out of the gate.

Finally, a word to the wise: Don’t let the perceived convenience of hiring a tried and true worker cloud your judgement when you’re interviewing candidates for the new role. Instead of picking the easiest person to fill the slot, pick the person that you believe is going to be most valuable to your business in the long term.

When partnered with a Abel HR, we will do the recruiting for you. We will then narrow down the best candidates for your company and you will make the ultimate decision on hiring. To learn more about our recruiting process or partnering with a PEO, please call 800-400-1968.

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