You’ve probably had it happen at least once. A great employee resigns for a new opportunity elsewhere … only to contact you a few months later asking for their old job back.
A few years ago, most HR pros would say no. How could you trust this person wouldn’t just leave again when the next good thing comes along?
But now, with retention and hiring more difficult than ever, attitudes are changing. According to a survey by WorkplaceTrends, 76% of HR pros are more likely to rehire old employees, also known as “boomerang employees.”
With so many employers considering it, the real question becomes should you hire old employees?
The answer isn’t a simple one. You could make the case either way, so you’ll need to evaluate each boomerang employee on an individual basis.
Here are the pros and cons to consider, according to the hiring experts at Glassdoor.
There’s a sense of security in rehiring an ex-employee since you already know what to expect from them. Sure, a new hire could be better, but why take the risk?
Here are four other pros in taking back a boomerang employee:
- They know how the company operates. This employee is familiar with company culture, already has a relationship with their colleagues, and knows how systems and processes work. You wouldn’t have to spend time getting a new employee adjusted.
- They’ve improved their skills. While this employee was gone, more likely than not they gained experience at another company. Maybe they learned a brand new skill, or they have a new perspective that will be highly valuable to add to your team.
- They send a message to your other employees. When your staff sees someone return after leaving, it sends the message that things aren’t always better somewhere else. Workers will see their colleague wasn’t happy at a new job and ended up back here, which will encourage them to stay put.
- It’ll save you time and money. This employee won’t need any training or time to get up to speed. They can hit the ground running — something you can’t get with a new employee.
That said, there are reasons taking on a boomerang employee is a bad idea. The biggest risk is that they might quit again! Not only will you have wasted time you could’ve been looking for a replacement, but there’s a sense of embarrassment about having an employee leave you twice.
Here are four other cons in taking back a boomerang employee:
- Their history could be a bad thing. Did this employee butt heads with a manager or colleague? Odds are, they’re going to have the same issues with these people if they come back, which could harm overall morale and productivity.
- They could have a sense of entitlement. While these employees worked with you before, technically, they are “new” again. This could cause issues if the employee expects to pick up where they left off with certain seniority perks, accrued vacation time, etc.
- They might fight change. Have any of your processes changed since this person worked for you? If so, they could have trouble adjusting to the new way of doing things — particularly if they returned to the company looking for familiarity.
- They might not be the best fit for the job. Maybe their past performance was just OK, and a new candidate would be a much better fit. If you hire back the ex-employee without considering other applicants, you could be missing out on great talent.
Recruiting boomerang employees
Whether you’ve made up your mind about rehiring old employees or not, it’s a good idea to lay the groundwork, just in case.
The WorkplaceTrends survey also revealed that 80% of employees don’t hear from their old employers again after they leave the company, which is a missed opportunity.
Keeping in touch is always a good idea, and it could make a potential transition back to the company much easier.
What’s the best way to do this? Here are some ideas, courtesy of WorkplaceTrends:
- Be sure to get an employee’s feedback during their exit interview so you know if any problems would need to be addressed to get them to return
- Let them know you would be open to them coming back in the future
- Connect on LinkedIn
- Post exciting company updates on your social media, and
- Reach out once or twice a year to see how things are going.