An HR Glossary for HR Terms
Glossary of Human Resources Management and Employee Benefit Terms
What Is a Boomerang Employee?
A boomerang employee is an employee who leaves a company for personal or professional reasons, then later returns to work for the company as a rehired employee.
The average employee tenure with a company has remained unchanged over the last 40 years, at approximately five years. With around 40 working years in a person’s life, that opens the door to working for a company, leaving for another job or experience, and still having plenty of time to return and work there again.
Today’s employees desire the flexibility to pursue other options without burning their past employment bridges. A 2022 survey by UKG found that 62% of people who left jobs during the pandemic, or more than 15 million people, say the job they quit was better than their current job. Hiring boomerang employees can be a win-win for companies and employees by bringing in experienced talent and an established relationship.
Why Do Former Employees Return?
Here are four common explanations for why an employee temporarily leaves work:
- To further their career, learn new skills, or receive higher pay when another opportunity presents itself
- To try something different, explore other industries, or pursue a passion
- To focus on a major life event, such as a spouse’s relocation, caring for a child, or nursing a medical condition
- To work seasonally. For example, snowbirds or retirees planning to return next year
What Are the Pros and Cons of Boomerang Employees?
Pros of Boomerang Employees
- A much less time-consuming and much more cost-effective onboarding process
- A high likelihood of fitting into the company culture
- Familiarity with the job, duties, and expectations
- New skills, experiences, connections, viewpoints, and customers are brought back with them
- An established employer-employee relationship that adds to company loyalty and increased retention
Cons of Boomerang Employees
- If they left on a less-than-high note, boomerang employees could bring bad blood back into the office.
- They may need more time 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.
4 Essential Interview Questions for Boomerang Employees
A boomerang employee interview differs slightly from a new-hire interview and requires an adjusted set of interview questions. Managers need to be careful to avoid unconscious bias and hire a boomerang employee as the “easy” option and, instead, consider how the situation and employee have changed from their original employment and what they bring to the table now.
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?
- Do you have any unresolved issues with the company or with former coworkers?
- Why do you want to come back at this time?
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