Leaving a job is a big decision and usually stems from an employee’s feeling that their employer can no longer meet their personal or professional needs.
But not all goodbyes are forever, and employers are increasingly discovering the value of rehiring employees who previously left their jobs before deciding to return.
According to LinkedIn dataBoomerang workers accounted for 4.5% of corporate hires in 2021, up from 3.9% in 2019.
There are numerous benefits to hiring these so-called “boomerang” workers – provided they leave on good terms, that is – especially those who have scarce technical skills and valuable business acumen.
Rokt recently welcomed Dr. Yan Xu, who left his role as one of the company’s senior machine learning engineers in June 2020 to join Facebook.
Yan spent two years at Facebook’s department of applied machine learning for social networks, before returning to Rokt in June 2022 as the company’s technical director for machine learning.
One of the first things Yan did before returning to Rokt was to engage in a dialogue with the company’s CEO to discuss where he was. deploy his skills within the company and have the most impact† “I considered two things: whether machine learning was core to the business and how much impact I could potentially have,” he says.
“The second thing I did was call some friends in the company to find out a little more about the current business structure; what the team structure looks like; what the company vision looks like; what the financial status looks like… these are also important for me to make a decision, especially in this current economic environment.”
Sarah Wilson, Rokt’s Chief People Officer, says there’s tremendous value in having an employee return.
“The boomerang worker is valuable from two perspectives: the knowledge we lost when they left, and also the knowledge they gained during their absence.”
Hiring former employees can make a lot of financial sense. Depending on how long they haven’t been in the company, boomerangs cost less in onboarding and training than a new hire. Plus, they’ve already built relationships within the company and with customers — meaning the time and effort that would normally go into getting a new hire up to speed can be spent on more important business and strategic goals.
“I think a lot of companies are very open to bringing back former employees because they know them, they know the benchmarks, they know the work ethic [and] they don’t have to retrain them as often,” said Paul Lewis, chief customer officer at job search engine Adzuna.
“Hiring and hiring former employees is guaranteed to be cheaper. They are employees [companies] are also already known, so I think that’s a huge tick for a company and a huge comfort factor for companies.”
While employee turnover has always been an issue for companies, the problem has become more acute in the past two years, with more employees than ever leaving their jobs to more flexible, more satisfying or better paying opportunities†
This talent loss has forced many companies to redouble their hiring efforts and prompted them to take an introspective look at what they could do to the flow of resignation†
Lewis argues that there is another side to this trend, often referred to as “The Great Resignation” or “The Great Reshuffle,” in that it has made employees more sloppy in their career decisions. “It almost feels like a trend to quit and start a new job,” he says.
“We’ve also seen the flip side of that, which is… the regrets that sometimes come when you jump too fast, when you may not have compared the benefits that really mean a lot to you, and you just end up with a higher paycheck.”
Wilson says rehiring former employees not only keeps talented professionals on the books but also instills confidence in the current workforce, which is especially important at a time when so many employees are wondering if the grass is greener on the other side. .
“When someone comes back, it makes the existing team feel that, as someone who has left so unbelievably and decided to come back, maybe this place isn’t so bad!”
The decision to leave a job is often a difficult one, but the decision to return to an old job is undoubtedly even more so, especially as some people may be embarrassed to ask a previous employer to re-employ you. to take.
But provided that employer and employee break up on good terms and there are no conflicts in core values (in which case it’s usually better to move on), both Lewis and Wilson agree that a good leaver returning to a old job likely will face more bargaining power than they would have had had they stayed.
“I think if you’re a good employee who returns, there’s always going to be bargaining power because it’s a really tough market,” Lewis says.
Likewise, having an employee resign and then return to a company gives employers an opportunity to rectify some of the issues that led to their relocation, Wilson says, which can also have a positive effect on other employees: “In some cases, if it’s a new discovery for us … we want to make sure we have a plan to fix it if it isn’t fixed yet.”
Don’t burn bridges
Lewis and Wilson offer practical tips for employees to consider before leaving their jobs for a new position, and to keep the door open for old employers.
Lewis says employees should compare both roles so they can base their decision on data and facts, as opposed to gut feeling. “Make a list of reasons why you left your old company and compare it to the reasons for joining the new company,” he says.
“Look at things like salaries, perks, career opportunities, your day-to-day responsibilities and your future responsibilities.”
Wilson believes that employees always benefit from staying in touch with previous employers, especially if the reason for leaving was motivated by practical reasons such as compensation or role responsibilities.
“Even if the company wasn’t in the state you wanted it to be when you got there, you never know what that company will look like in two, three, five years.”
Of course, in an ideal world, workers wouldn’t leave their jobs in the first place. While much is invested in hiring new employees, relatively little is focused on keeping existing employees happy, engaged and with the company.
The buck stops leaders, Wilson says: “There are a million cheap quotes about ‘people don’t leave companies, they leave leaders’ – but it’s actually very true. If you don’t have the right skills and the right capabilities in the leadership roles retention is starting to become a real problem.”