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An HR Glossary for HR Terms

Glossary of Human Resources Management and Employee Benefit Terms

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Boomerang Employee

A boomerang employee is an employee who leaves a company they work for, but then later returns to work for the company once again.

While this boomerang employee definition gives you a quick answer, there are many pros and cons of boomerang employees to discuss. To better understand who they are and if it’s a good idea to rehire them, here’s a closer look at boomerang employees.

What Is a Boomerang Employee?

Whether it’s for personal reasons or professional reasons, a boomerang employee chooses to take a job elsewhere (or quits work altogether) for a time before choosing to come back to their former company as a rehired employee.

Here are the top four explanations for why an employee temporarily leaves work:

  1. To further their career, learn new skills, or receive a higher pay when another opportunity presented itself.

  2. To try something different, explore other industries, or pursue a passion.

  3. To focus on a major life event, such as a spouse’s relocation, caring for a child, or nursing their own medical condition.

  4. To work seasonally. For example, snowbirds or retirees planning to return again next year.

The Corporate Culture and Boomerang Employee Study by Workplace Trends gives the following boomerang employee statistics:

  • 15%of employees have boomeranged back to a former employee.

  • 40% of employees say they would consider boomeranging back to a company where they had previously worked. This includes 46% of Millenials, 33% of Gen Xers, and 29% of Baby Boomers.

  • 76% of HR professionals say they are more accepting of hiring boomerang employees today than in the past.

  • 40% of HR professionals say their organization hired about half of their former employees who re-applied for a job with them.

  • 56% of HR professionals and 51% of managers say they give high or very high priority to boomerang job applicants who left in good standing.

  • 33% of HR professionals and 38% of managers agree that already being familiar with the organization’s culture, and fewer training needs, are the biggest benefits to hiring back former employees.

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Interview Questions for Boomerang Employees

A boomerang employee interview is a little different than a new-hire interview and requires an adjusted set of interview questions. Here are four helpful interview questions specifically geared toward boomerang employees:

  • What have you been doing since you left the company?

  • How have you increased your skill set and experience?

  • Are there any unresolved issues with the company or former coworkers?

  • Why are you wanting to come back at this time?

When it’s time to make your final decision, it can be helpful to have a list of pros and cons of boomerang employees.

Pros and Cons of Boomerang Employees

The pros of rehiring a boomerang employee are plentiful. They include:

  • A much less time consuming and much more cost effective onboarding process.

  • A high likelihood of fitting into the company culture.

  • Ready familiarity with job, job duties, and job expectations.

  • New skills, experiences, connections, viewpoints, and customers brought back with them.

  • An established employer-employee relationship that adds to company loyalty and increased retention.

The cons to consider in rehiring a boomerang employee are:

  • If they left on a less-than-high note, boomerang employees have the potential of bringing bad blood back into the office.

  • They may need more time than you think in order to acclimate, especially if management, policies, or company culture have changed.

  • They may not actually be the best fit for the new position, regardless of their past performance.

These days, HR professionals and managers are realizing that loyalty doesn’t necessarily end when employees move on to other opportunities or areas of focus. There are many working years in a lifetime and people desire the flexibility to pursue other options without burning their past employment bridges. Plus, with the benefits that boomerang employees can bring your business, it can become a win-win situation for everyone.

HR software with heart.

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