There are innumerable reasons why employees choose to leave the company they have been working for. Sometimes they are not happy with how they are reimbursed for the work they do. Sometimes they feel like the organization is going nowhere. Other times, they might not get along with their colleagues, or they might even feel hostility in the workplace. Like I said, the reasons are too many to even list.
There are also situations during which the employees who have recently left the company decide to ask for their old jobs back. These are commonly known as boomerang employees.
The question that begs an answer is whether it is a good idea to hire boomerang employees.
As is often the case, there is not a single answer that will work in every situation. In other words, there are a couple of things an employer needs to consider before he/she makes a decision on whether he/she should take on a boomerang employee.
The Reason for Leaving
One of the two most important things to consider is why this person left your company in the first place. If he/she left for a very specific reason, and the situation hasn’t changed since they left, it is unlikely he/she will suddenly be okay with it. On the other hand, if the employee left because he/she felt adventurous and wanted to give the job market (or another company) a go, and he/she is now willing to come back; the employee is probably disillusioned, and he/she might actually appreciate working for you more than before.
The Walk Out
The second crucial thing to factor in will be the way the boomerang employee quit his/her job. As we all know, there are different ways in which people quit. Some people are composed, and they know there is no sense in burning all the bridges behind them. Other people go the other way, and they make a spectacle no one wants to see. There are probably people who in real life quit their jobs like Kevin Spacey does in American Beauty.
It goes without saying you will not be rehiring someone who has made a scene and insulted pretty much everyone involved with your organization. If they were respectful and professional about going elsewhere for a job, there is no reason why you wouldn’t hear them out.
The Fine Balance
In case both of the two deciding factors work in favor of the boomerang employee, there is still something that you need to work out as an employer. We are talking about a fine balance here.
On the one hand, some employers feel like rehiring someone who quit shows weakness. This can also result in an organizational culture where people quit left and right, knowing that their jobs are just waiting for them if they change their minds. This is definitely not a good idea.
On the other hand, the returning employee is coming back with the knowledge of the organization, its culture and day-to-day operation. You can also know for a fact that he/she has experience at the job and that you will not need to spend time in training. This is especially true for industries where employees are required to possess a specific kind of education and skillset, like in IT, healthcare and science.
Potential to Learn
This may sound somewhat idealistic or even naïve, but there is even a possibility for an employer to learn something from a returning employee who is rehired. Someone from HR can sit with them and talk openly about his/her past decision to quit. Perhaps it is something that can easily be remedied to avoid other people from leaving, like introducing a schedule creator that will ensure certain people are not being overworked while others are twiddling their thumbs all day long. Maybe your employees do not feel appreciated enough.
Furthermore, by talking to the rehired boomerang employee, you can often learn about the job market, your competition and what things are like in the outside world. It is always a good idea to keep tabs on what is going on in the industry!
You will need to think long and hard about whether rehiring a boomerang employee will work for you. It has its downsides, but the upsides can often outweigh them. The important thing is to keep an open mind.
AUTHOR: James D. Burbank has spent more than 15 years in the trade show industry, dealing with teams of different sizes in different industries around the world. With a few friends, he runs a business blog called BizzMarkBlog. You can also find him on Twitter – @JBurbank2019.