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Boomerang employees: the dos and don'ts of rehiring past employees

By Emilly Parris

Whether you’re a small business or a thriving enterprise, hiring can be an expensive and time-consuming process. Hiring the right person can take a long time, especially when the candidates putting themselves forward are less than ideal. 

Re-hiring previous employees is one method that hiring managers have found to be a cost-effective and efficient way to fill roles. Boomerang employees, as they are referred to, are those who return to work in a company they have previously left. Since these candidates have a history with the organisation, they can often be vetted much more quickly than new employees.

A study by Workplace Trends suggests that 15% of employees have ‘boomeranged’ back to a former employer. Additionally, 40% of employees say they would consider going back to a company where they had previously worked. Millennials appear to be the most suggestable, with 46% saying they would return to a previous employer. While this can preserve resources and save you time, it’s important to go about hiring boomerang employees the right way.

SkillsTalk will go over some of the dos and don’ts of hiring past employees to help you decide whether you’re making the right call for your business.

The dos and don’ts of rehiring past employees

  1. Do consider the benefits of hiring a boomerang employee.
  2. Do look into the reasons they left and why they want to return.
  3. Do things by the book.
  4. Don’t forget about performance and cultural fit.
  5. Don’t let emotions cloud your judgement.

1. Do consider the benefits of hiring a boomerang employee.

all colleagues smiling and posing for a photo

There are a number of advantages to hiring a boomerang employee. Existing rapport and familiarity, easier training and knowledge of the organisation all benefit both the employer and the employee.

According to Workplace Trends, 33% of HR professionals and 38% of managers agree that familiarity with the organisation’s culture is the biggest benefit to hiring back former employees. Employees on the other hand, were willing to return to a former employer if pay was comparable and there were more opportunities to grow.

Hiring a boomerang employee also serves as positive reinforcement to other employees, demonstrating that previous employees are happy and willing to return to your organisation over working somewhere else.

2. Do look into the reasons they left and why they want to return.

Some employees genuinely love and believe in the company they work for but leave for purposes of career development. They may wish to return eventually to take on a higher level role within that company, which was previously inaccessible to them. 

Job hopping is a strategy that many ambitious career climbers adopt to work their way up the ladder faster - and although it may be frustrating for hiring managers, it often comes with the territory. If a candidate falls into this category, they may be worth looking into (proceed with caution of course).

During the interview process, it’s important not to shy away from the subject of why they left and what they hope to bring to the table this time around. You’re looking for someone who is genuinely enthusiastic, passionate and has the right skills required for the job.

3. Do things by the book.

man talking to manager during job interview

You may be tempted to forego certain protocols such as requesting a cover letter or face to face interview, but treating a former employee differently from a new one is not the right way to go about it. 

Use a formal process like you would with any potential candidate—take down their details, review their resume, request a cover letter and conduct an interview before deciding on whether to proceed.

4. Don’t forget about performance and cultural fit.

While they might be an easy hire, it’s still important to consider whether they’re really worth re-hiring. If they were not performing well in their role or perhaps weren’t quite the right fit the first time around, they may end up being more of a liability than an asset.

Avoid hiring someone you’ve worked with before purely out of familiarity—take the time to look into their existing work ethic, skills and general attitude. Do they seem keen to return or are they simply biding their time for the next role that comes along? You’ll need to make these evaluations during the interview process and decide if the candidate is worth the investment.

5. Don’t let emotions cloud your judgement.

Welcoming back alumni can bring up feelings of nostalgia and memories of ‘the good old days’, but your goal as a hiring manager is to hire the best candidate for the role. Even if you have an existing friendship with the employee, this doesn’t always equate to them being the best person for the job. They may lack the required experience, or they may not offer the fresh perspective you’re looking for.

It is always worth the effort it takes to find the best person for the job (even if that means scouting for new talent), especially if the role is crucial to the future growth and development of your business.

Do you love working with people?

Boomerang employees can be valuable to your business because they’re already familiar with the processes, culture and company values. Hopefully this article inspired you to consider your relationships with your staff. 

If you’re interested in learning more about working with and managing people, check out our Human Resources courses. Upskilled provides over 80 qualifications in a variety of industries to help you improve your skills and meet employer objectives. Enquire today to learn more about your options.

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