Fi Boomerang

Out With the Old, in With the Old: What Employers Need to Consider When Hiring a Boomerang Employee

Now, I’m sure we have all been guilty of talking to an ex before.

The two of you have history, you understand each other on a fundamental level, so sometimes, you find yourself considering whether that initial decision you made to leave was the wrong one.

Well, this social trend seems to be translating into the working world as well. A recent international survey found that nearly 20% of workers who quit their job during the pandemic have since returned to their former employers.

However, there is some hesitation from employers to re-hire past employees. Robert Walters conducted a survey which found that more than two fifths (44%) of managers were reluctant to hire a former employee, despite that same survey finding that 71% of professionals would be open to returning to their previous role.

From my experience, there is no right or wrong answer here. Companies shouldn’t have a strong stance in favor of or against re-hiring a previous staff member. Instead, this person should be measured against the same talent acquisition criteria as a potential new candidate.

An employer’s talent management process is going to be key when it comes to deciding whether to re-hire a boomerang employee. There are some things that they should take into consideration when making a decision to bring on board someone who has previously worked with them:

  • Check previous performance reviews and exit interviews – establish the context around why this employee left in the first place; if it was for cultural reasons, have those things changed/evolved since they left? Or will these clashes simply happen all over again? If they didn’t work well with a certain team member, is that person still there? Or did they simply leave to pursue a new career path and have decided that they were more satisfied where they were before? Understanding why someone left in the first place will be a helpful indicator of whether it is worth reinvesting in them.
  • Still doing a thorough interview process – this is an important step to remember to take. Re-hiring a previous employee shouldn’t mean that the process is sped up and they are treated specially, especially if a company is enticing someone to return by offering them promoted responsibilities and a higher wage. Harvard Business Review conducted their own study which found that boomerang employees were more likely to be managers than non-managers, and this was assumed because organizations often entice workers back by offering them a promotion. However, this can cause friction with employees who would consider themselves loyal as they didn’t depart but are still being overlooked for promotional opportunities. By conducting the interview process like you would for any candidate, this helps to establish that the decision was made fairly and that all options were considered.
  • Avoid elevated expectations – an obvious pro for re-hiring someone is that they already have a familiarity with the company and are trained. While this is a cost-effective hire, leaders should still be sure not to make the assumption that this employee will be able to jump straight back in all guns blazing. Boomerang employees should still undergo an onboarding process to get back in the groove, and be trained with any potential cultural and strategic changes that have occurred since they last worked there.

In summary, employers should consider re-hiring someone in the same way they would consider hiring a new candidate. With everything there is going to be pros and cons, so assessing the former employee on an unbiased and informed scale will ensure that they make the best decision for their company.

To discuss your talent management strategies and onboarding processes, please get in touch with me at

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