Boomerang Employees: How Employers Can Tap Into This Unique Talent Pool

Boomerang Employees: How Employers Can Tap Into This Unique Talent Pool

As we approach the end of the year, the demand for talent remains strong, with 10.1 million job openings reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in August. Employers are looking for any advantage to attract talent for their organization. We’ve covered topics such as a streamlined interview process, employer branding, data driven recruitment and other methods for employers to stand out to job seekers. Perhaps an untapped or often forgotten about talent pool is boomerang employees. Boomerang employees are classified as workers who left an organization for one reason or another and then return after a period of time.

Georgianna Rhoda, Director of Recruiting at Hunter International, recently spoke on the topic of boomerang employees at the Paradigm For Parity Annual Meeting. She spoke on current trends, the benefits of embracing boomerang employees and provided advice for employers to take advantage of this candidate pool. Rhoda explains, “In 2010, only about two percent of hires were boomerang employees according to data by LinkedIn. Last year, that number was up to over 4 percent.” In addition to the uptick in the amount of people returning to their previous employers, they are also returning in a quicker timeframe. Rhoda adds, “The data also showed that boomerang employees are returning within an average of 17 months, whereas 10 years ago, they were returning in an average of 21 months.”

What does this uptick mean for employers? To start, they can likely expect boomerang employees to be some of their top performers, with a 2021 Academy of Management study showing that returning workers consistently outperformed new hires. Rhoda explains, “Companies who are leveraging boomerang employees can fill their open roles with individuals who already have an understanding of the organization’s values, culture and business operational models. These employees should be able to get up and running faster than new employees and can start making an impact on the business almost right away.”

How exactly can employers attract and effectively bring in boomerang employees? Read below for our tips to tap into this unique talent pool.

Ensure an Effective Offboarding Process

The first way to ensure a positive experience for employees who are leaving and potential boomerang employees, is to have an effective offboarding process. If employees have a good experience when leaving your company, they may feel more inclined to consider opportunities at your organization in the future. You can create an effective offboarding process by ensuring employees feel supported during their transition. Guide them through the offboarding process by answering any questions they have, making sure they are well-informed on next steps and providing them any tools and resources for navigating the transition. Additionally, implement exit surveys that ask questions to enable positive change within your organization. Rhoda explains, “Exit surveys can be an extremely useful tool for analyzing trends and assessing reasons for departure from your organization. However, to make them effective, employers should create a plan for reviewing survey results with upper management regularly to ensure that the data is being used to drive decisions and ultimately cause positive change within the organization.”

Have a Reason For Them to Come Back

An employee can leave for a number of different reasons. They may have had a bad manager, didn’t enjoy their day-to-day responsibilities or received better compensation and benefits at a different organization. Whatever the case, to attract boomerang employees, your organization may need to give them a reason to come back. Have you improved your benefits, implemented flexible working or changed your compensation structure? These are just some of the things your organization can do to stand out to previous employees. “When an organization is doing things to improve employee experience, they are not only retaining current employees, they are also attracting new hires and boomerang employees, so these initiatives should be highlighted,” explains Rhoda. Companies will highlight new benefits on their career page, on social media or even in a newsletter geared toward job seekers.

Ask The Right Questions

When interviewing boomerang employees, companies will want to make sure that previous employees are coming back to the organization for the right reasons. One way to ensure this is to ask effective questions. Rhoda explains, “Employers are right to be slightly cautious of reemployment within their organization. They need to consider factors such as, ‘how will this person returning impact our company’s culture?’ Or ‘what is their motivation for returning?’ These are questions they can ask to ensure that the employee has good intentions and that bringing them back onto the team will be beneficial for both parties.” Consider asking questions about why the individual is interested in returning to your organization and why they were motivated to leave previously. Additionally, inquire about what skills they have developed in their time away. With that, consider what opportunities are a good fit for them in their career now. Just as you want to encourage reemployment, you should be thoughtful in understanding if the opportunity is the right fit for both the previous employee and your organization.

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