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  • Writer's pictureJames Eves

Boomerang workers: The return of the talent

Updated: Mar 8

Businesses are struggling to recruit and retain top talent now more than ever, but it is likely there is an untapped resource right under their noses. The answer to a company’s staffing problems is in plain sight - in the form of ‘boomerang workers’.

Who's got talent?

Business leaders everywhere are still feeling the pain of the Great Resignation, with potential employees having remote working opportunities at their fingertips and being fully prepared to walk if the terms don’t suit them.

However, the phenomenon of boomerang workers - former employees coming back to companies they previously worked for - is on the rise. One recent survey said that 29% of UK business leaders have reported an increase in former workers asking to return.

With talent shortages still plaguing businesses across a wide variety of industries, pursuing and hiring boomerang workers might be the unexpected solution that businesses need to embrace.

Boomerang boost

While not widely known, the advantages of rehiring former employees have been well-established. Research from US Ivy League college Cornell University shows that boomerang workers outperform their new hire colleagues.

Former employees will also be more likely to understand the processes, colleague dynamics and culture of a company than new hires. They also might be able to shed light on any issues that contributed to them leaving in the first place, giving leaders a fantastic opportunity to make improvements.

Former employees can bring new ideas when they return to an organisation.

It is also worth remembering that, rather than being a hindrance, the employee’s time in other organisations will have built on their professional expertise and ideas. Their newly acquired knowledge may even spark innovation, benefitting the business as a whole.

Putting pride to one side

Leaders might feel hesitant about taking back former employees. However, it is important to understand any reluctance and not let it get in the way of rehiring the best fit for your business.

Of course, it depends on the reasons that the employee left in the first place - previous performance and behaviour should be taken into account. However, it is vital that leaders don’t let their judgement be clouded by ego or pride.

An employee leaving can feel like a personal rejection, particularly in smaller businesses, but a good leader understands that employees are also human beings on their own career and life journeys, and holds no grudges.

If an employee is choosing to come back to a business, don’t underestimate the power of that. Someone who has already experienced a company’s culture and still wants to return has a level of confidence in the business and its leaders - something that would need to be cultivated from scratch with a brand new hire.

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