As Attitudes Shift, Companies Find That “Boomerangs” Are Coming Back

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Sep 3, 2015

It used to be that being a “job hopper” was a bad thing.

Employers wouldn’t touch someone who moved around a lot. And employees almost never wanted to go back to a former employer. They had good reasons for leaving.

Today, however, most understand that boomerangs are a fact of life. But what if someone who left your organization in good standing applies for a job and wants to return today?

Will you hold his/her decision to leave against them? Or will you think that their pathway to productivity will be shorter because they already know the culture and the ropes?

Those are among the questions that were asked in a recent survey by the Workforce Institute at Kronos Inc. and More than 1,800 HR professionals, people managers and employees were surveyed and the results show a shift in attitude regarding the desirability of rehiring former “boomerang” employees.

An attitude shift concerning “boomerangs”

Some of the highlights from the survey results include:

  • Organizations and workers alike are coming around on rehiring former employees.
  • Boomerangs are creating increased – and unexpected – competition for job seekers as the hiring market continues to improve.
  • Familiarity, easier training, and knowledge of the former employer are benefits for boomerangs and organizations – yet some concerns still linger.
  • HR says it has a strategy for maintaining relationships with former employees, but workers and managers disagree.

The first three findings are pretty predictable, I think. But the fourth shows some interesting opportunities for HR to communicate more strategically to their important stakeholders.

What organizations are lacking

The study showed that while organizations appear to more open to hiring boomerangs:

  • 80 percent of employees report that former employers do not have a strategy in place to encourage them to return.
  • Additionally, 64 percent believe that there doesn’t appear to be a strategy for maintaining a relationship once they depart.
  • And finally, nearly half of managers say their organization has no alumni relationship strategy.

Contrast these findings with HR’s report that they use multiple strategies for keeping in touch with former high-performing employees – like email newsletters (45 percent), recruiters (30 percent), and alumni groups (27 percent).

A focus on cultivating alumni groups appear to be more common than managers or employees believe, with Facebook as the most favored social platform (42 percent). Email (39 percent) and LinkedIn (33 percent) are also frequently used alumni relationship platform hosts.

An opportunity for HR to engage

HR clearly has an opportunity to engage both the people managers and high performing employees in their organizations around the topic of keeping former employees tethered to the organization through alumni relationship building.

Joyce Maroney, Director of The Workforce Institute at Kronos believes this:

With this boomerang trend on the rise, it’s more important than ever for organizations to create a culture that engages employees – even long after they’ve gone – and organizations should consider how the boomerang employee factor should affect their off-boarding and alumni communications strategies for top performers.”

Joyce is right. In the increasingly tough talent supply/demand landscape, employers can’t afford to overlook any part of the talent pool when seeking new employees.

Boomerangs have a lot going for them — and they should be kept top of mind by managers and talent acquisition professionals alike.

This originally appeared on China Gorman’s blog at