Should You Hire a Boomerang Employee?

February 23, 2022 | 1,048 views

Should You Hire a Boomerang Employee?
Should You Hire a Boomerang Employee?

Hiring and training new employees are expensive and time-consuming. And these days, finding help is more difficult than ever as workers have more choices in where they work. It is a labor market that favors workers, not businesses.

In years past, it was unusual to hire back a boomerang (i.e., returning) employee because that person could easily choose to leave again. However, if you are shorthanded, rehiring an experienced employee who left seems less risky and less costly than finding a new person who needs training.

When to Say “Yes”

Some employees leave for a better opportunity and then find it does not meet their expectations. If they come crawling back to you, there might be very good reasons to say yes and rehire them, even if their initial departure was not your choice:

  1. Their skills have become more developed. If an employee has expanded their skillset, they have more to offer you than they did before. You might be getting an improved employee who adds quickly to your profit.
  2. They already know your operation. This is not necessarily a reason to rehire, but it does simplify the onboarding process and training required to get rehires up to speed. A former employee already knows what they are getting into—a rehire won’t be surprised by policies or company culture because they already know (and are willing to step back into).
  3. They teach others to stick around. When an employee wants to return, others see more value in your organization and working environment. A returning employee might offer lessons of how other workplaces are less inviting, and that could keep other good employees (that we desperately need to retain) satisfied and stable for you.

When to Say “No”

To be sure, rehiring a past employee has risks. Your situation will determine how much risk you are willing to take to fill an empty position. Sometimes, it does not make sense to rehire.

  1. If there were prior issues. Even if you didn’t terminate an employee, he might have been difficult in the workplace. Perhaps there were conflicts with other colleagues or performance problems that you didn’t have a chance to address before they quit. Just as we grieve when a good employee leaves us, there are some we are glad to see go. Don’t be so desperate that you consider hiring those prior employees that were problems.
  2. If it will cost more. Even if a returning prospective employee can be productive quickly, they may be asking for a lot more in wages and benefits. If you agree to this, every other employee will see you reward someone for leaving and then returning. You’d be taking on higher labor expenses and encouraging more turnover, both of which are poor outcomes.
  3. If the employee was laid off. Maybe. If you had to lay off employees due to service cuts in the last couple of years, a returning employee might be glad to be back or could be resentful and detrimental to the team. Wanting a job back may not be a good enough reason to rehire if the person is negative.

Deciding when to hire a boomerang employee takes some finesse, but be sure to treat them as you do any other applicant. Ask the same questions of everyone to filter through motivations and expectations. A returning employee should go through the same vetting as any other applicant and explain why they want to return. If you hear good intentions, you may discover that rehiring a former employee is the best choice for your business.

Author Profile Jon Forknell is the Vice President and General Manager of Atlas Business Solutions, Inc., a software marketing company specializing in employee scheduling software, including ScheduleBase employee scheduling software, and other business software solutions. In the past, Jon has been recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as a SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year. For many years, Atlas Business Solutions has been named one of Software Magazine’s Top 500 Software Companies.

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