Every company loses top performers once in a while. Smart companies figure out how to bring them back.
Dr. John Sullivan, writing on the recruiting website ERE.com, defines “boomerang rehires” as former star performers that return to their former employers after an absence of a few years. And, Sullivan says, they often turn out to be some of the best hires a company can make.
Some of the advantages of rekindling these old relationships:
- They’re proven performers
- They’re likely to stay — they’ve already tested the waters and realize the upside of working for your organization
- They understand your culture
- They can hit the ground running — you may have changed a few processses since they left, but they’re still light years ahead of an outside hire in terms of understanding how your company works
- You can probably get them on the job quickly — you already know what they’re capable of and how they fit in with your workforce, so there’s no need to go through a long, drawn-out vetting process, and
- They may bring new customers with them.
The boomerang bonus doesn’t stop there. Dr. Sullivan points out, among other things, that these rehires also:
- Help with retention. They’re in a position to tell co-workers why so-and-so company isn’t as great a place to work as co-workers think. And just the fact that the boomerangs came back is a pretty strong statement about your company as an employer of choice.
- They bring competitive intelligence. They may well have some crucial market information management isn’t yet aware of — and what may be even more important, they may know what other companies are saying about you.
- They could draw in more boomerangs. If other former employees get wind of star performers re-upping with you, that could plant the seed in various organizations. And the news of top performers returning home certainly is good PR for you.
Launching the boomerang program
Dr. Sullivan points out that companies have been trying to rehire lost top talent for years, but it was a pain to keep track of where people went and what they were doing.
Not so today. With the explosion of LinkedIn, HR pros can easily find out who’s doing what where. And more and more companies are creating an “alumni” database — just reaching out periodically to former employees to let them know your door’s still open.
So what steps can HR take to set up a connection with these coveted candidates. Here’s a sampling from Dr. Sullivan’s checklist:
- Consider offering a “no-fault” return policy. Consider offering top individuals who left the option to return within two years without losing their seniority. This incentive can serve to further convince alumni to return if they are unhappy at their new company.
- Create an alumni group. You can use Facebook or operate separately as a talent community would. Keep those who are invited to join interested by including boomerang-related features covering forums, FAQs, blogs, learning wikis, podcasts, videos, and an alumni directory that can be sorted by name, location, and interests, Dr. Sullivan says.
- Make a strong business case. If you can point to a substantial increase in revenue or productivity caused by these boomerang hires, getting solid management backing is a slam dunk.
- Tag them when they leave. Dr. Sullivan suggests keeping a list to identify those top performers you’d like to eventually hire back, and use post-exit (delayed) interviews to find out any negative factors that drove them away.
- Be alert to possible opportunities. Has someone you’ve wanted to bring back recently updated their LinkedIn profile? Could mean they’re thinking about making a change. And if you receive a reference call on a former employee, it’s a pretty clear sign that employee is seeking greener pastures.