Article by Clodagh Murphy June 29th, 2022

Breaking down the Stigma of 'Boomerang Employees'

At the start of 2022, it was estimated that, as part of the Great Resignation, three in four people were preparing to leave their current roles and find a job in pastures new. Many were looking for better pay and more flexibility while others were looking for a complete change of path, opting to retrain or improve their skillset.

Let’s not forget how many UK employees chose to leave the workplace altogether and set up on their own. Indeed, 80 new businesses were started every hour during the first half of 2021.

However, as the economy changes and as the world faces further unprecedented challenges, it appears that, for some, the grass wasn’t as green as they thought it may be on the other side.

According to LinkedIn, 4.5 per cent of new recruits on its platform were ‘boomerangs’, a term which is applied to those who return to a company which they have previously left, in comparison to only 3.9 per cent the year prior.

However, there continues to be an element of negative stigma around boomerang employees. From notions of disloyalty to worries about how a re-hire may reflect on business’ reputation, many companies have struggled in the past with the idea of boomerang employees. Indeed, some businesses go as far to implement policies which do not allow the re-hiring of former employees.

This stigma has been, and continues to be, very problematic. Not only are employers ignoring the positives that these returning employees may bring to the business, they’re also not looking at the wider recruitment market, especially in the current climate.

Improved retention rates

When we talk about improved retention rates, we’re not only referring to that of the employee who is returning. While it has been found that boomerang employees have a 44 per cent higher retention rate over three years, there is also evidence that their return has a positive knock-on effect on the wider team.

An old employee coming back into their previous place of work showcases to their peers that this company is worth staying in, and that perhaps its benefits aren’t matched elsewhere. It offers a morale boost to all in the office, may incite a sense of loyalty amongst others as well as entice new recruits looking to find a job.

An opportunity to look inwards

There will be at least one reason why a boomerang employee went to find a job elsewhere in the first place. Perhaps a search for a better salary, more progression opportunities, greater autonomy over flexibility – the list is endless. When they return to your company, it’s crucial that you sit down with them and review their exit interview, learning where you, as an employer, can make them happier and more satisfied this time around.

These learnings can then be applied company-wide to ensure that the risk of others leaving is lowered, and a healthier, more positive working environment is created.

Greater skill sets on offer

Especially in the case where employees leave to find a job with more progression opportunities, boomerang employees are likely to return to an old company armed with an abundance of new skills, knowledge, and insight than perhaps a few years prior.

Not only is this a huge boost to your company, but it should also be a proud moment as they choose to return to your business and share their new-found expertise. This will undoubtedly make you a stronger, more resilient competitor in the market with an extremely capable and proficient team.

The past two years have been a time of immense change within the job market – there’s no denying that the Great Resignation took hold of many sectors. And due to global events, it’s unlikely that we’ll see this settle in the short-term. Boomerang employees offer incredible value to teams, from helping them to change their working practices to equipping them with additional knowledge and expertise.

It’s time for the stigma to be eradicated and for boomerang employees to be celebrated.

Article by Clodagh Murphy

June 29th, 2022

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