The Benefits, Risks of Hiring Boomerang Employees

By Lindsay Koruna

Covid-19 has had lasting effects on the employment world. Some of the major trends were extensive layoffs, terminations, downsizing, the infamous move to remote work and mass resignations, as the pandemic led many employees to reevaluate their career paths. With these tendencies seemingly in the past, an anticipated recession on the horizon and life getting back to ‘normal,’ the newest trend in employment is the hiring of and surge in boomerang employees.

Boomerang Employee Defined
A boomerang employee is an employee who left a company and later returns to work for the same company. The reasons for an employee’s departure vary, from leaving to further their career in another opportunity, go back to school, for personal reasons or personal growth, or to simply try something different. The important piece with boomerang employees is they return to their previous company. It’s a pretty simple concept but boomerang employees tap into an interesting pool of job candidates. They provide both strengths and weaknesses, and it’s important that employers understand the benefits or potential consequences of rehiring a past employee.

Advantages of Rehiring a Past Employee
A former employee will already know the company’s culture, and work and performance expectations. An employer will have insights into whether that employee’s character, work ethic and personality fit with current staff and the company’s values.

Reemploying will also undoubtedly make the overall hiring and training process less cumbersome since returning employees are ideally able to hit the ground running in their role. Even if a returning employee is being hired back in a different role, the company’s organizational groundwork remains the same and the focus of training can be on new tasks rather than starting from scratch.

Drawbacks of a Boomerang Hire
There is always the possibility the employee will continue to be a flight risk. While all new hires have the potential to quit, an employee who has already left a company once may have a tendency to do it again. The last thing an employer wants is to waste time and money retraining an employee who may just up and leave again if something better comes along.

Depending on how long an employee has been away, the company’s values, structure and goals may have changed or evolved, and it can be hard to instil these new mindsets in a boomerang employee. Rehiring a past employee could lead to an unintentional sense of entitlement or seniority, where the employee feels they need to assert their place.

Another potential disadvantage is old habits die hard. Boomerang employees can recreate bad working relationships that may have existed in the past or develop a ‘we used to do it this way’ mindset.

It’s important to do due diligence and learn how the boomerang employee performed prior to leaving, what made them leave in the first place and, most importantly, what they have been doing since they left the company.

Asking a boomerang employee what led them to leave and what is drawing them back gives insight into the ebbs and flows of the company, the reasons employees leave and why they want to return. It provides a learning experience for employers to improve on their company’s day-to-day workings.

In learning about what the employee has been doing since leaving, an employer can gain valuable insight into where they could potentially (re)land. Did they go back to school? Have they been bettering their skill sets? What new assets are they able to bring to the table?

During the interview and hiring process, it’s necessary to be clear, concise and transparent about intentions. (This is important for both the employer and employee.) Take into account where the employee sees themselves in the future within the company in order to set the groundwork for mutual growth.

It’s also critical not to skip the onboarding or training process when rehiring a past employee. Even though they’ve worked for the company before, certain standards may have changed. This will also help reduce a hierarchy that may be instilled by a returning employee and will create a new dynamic that is not based on older ways.

Lindsay Koruna is a paralegal at SpringLaw. Lindsay started her legal career working in a firm that specializes in criminal defence. She then joined a boutique firm that practices personal injury civil litigation with a focus on sexual assault cases. Through her work with high-risk cases and vulnerable clients, Lindsay has become a strong advocate for law to be accessible, easily explained and, more importantly, understood. She can be reached at [email protected].

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