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Boomerang employees - the second chance to move your business forward

25/01/2024 2024/01

Boomerang employee definition

The last day at work is more than just a formal farewell - it is a mixture of excitement and nostalgia. Often accompanied by farewell rituals such as a drink, it provides a moment to reflect on achievements and personal growth. This day marks not only the end of a professional era, but also the beginning of new adventures and challenges. But sometimes things turn out differently than you think.

Boomerang employees are skilled workers who return to their former employer after a temporary absence. The term is derived from the Australian hunting device that returns to its point of origin after being thrown. The boomerang effect in business reflects the growing practice of bringing former employees back into the team after a period of career change. These returnees not only bring valuable outside knowledge and fresh perspectives, but are also familiar with the company's culture, allowing for faster integration. The trend towards boomerang employees illustrates a shift in HR management away from traditional linear career paths towards more flexible and dynamic working relationships.

Current trends in recruitment

Researchers from several US universities, including Portland and Purdue, compared internal, external and returning new hires in a study of 30,000 employees. The results were discussed in detail in the Harvard Business Review (HBR).

While it was once considered disloyal to leave a company, and hiring back former employees was taboo, the winds of change are blowing in this direction too. Today, the average employee passes through more than 12 different employers over the course of his or her career. The tight labour market, especially against the backdrop of skills shortages, makes the return of skilled workers a sensible option for companies. But what are the real benefits to employers of rehiring boomerang employees?

Benefits for companies

Cost savings through reduced recruitment effort

Re-employing Boomerang employees can result in significant cost savings through reduced recruitment costs. Compared to external recruitment, there is no need for time-consuming application processes and extensive selection procedures, as Boomerang employees have already proven their skills and qualifications. The elimination of external advertising, recruitment agency fees and lengthy induction periods helps to conserve financial resources.

Faster integration and onboarding

These team members are already familiar with the company's structures, processes and team dynamics, which significantly shortens the onboarding process. Unlike external hires, Boomerang employees do not need to be introduced to the culture from scratch. Thanks to their existing relationships with colleagues and understanding of work processes, they can seamlessly return to their roles. This reintegration allows organisations to benefit more quickly from their skills and experience. There is also the benefit of a rich transfer of knowledge, as returnees have gained all kinds of experience outside the organisation. These fresh insights and external perspectives make a valuable contribution to innovative ideas and best practice. This aspect also makes boomerang employees an enriching resource for the company that can not only be seamlessly integrated, but can also help drive the company's growth and development.

Strengthening corporate culture

As mentioned above, boomerang employees are not only familiar with internal processes, they also help to increase productivity and strengthen the corporate culture. Their return sends a strong signal about the quality of the employer. This is a promising opportunity for both organisations and employees. "The Great Regret makes it clear that the bond between employer and employee can, and often should, go deeper than an employment contract dictates. This deep understanding and willingness to rehire is not only a sign of successful collaboration, but also a smart strategy in the face of the ongoing skills shortage.

The increased productivity, efficiency gains and cost savings make the decision to hire boomerang workers not only culturally but also economically attractive to companies.

Our tips for implementing a boomerang programme

To implement a successful boomerang programme for former employees, a strategic approach is key. Here are some tips on how to encourage a positive employee return:

Maintain active contact with former employees

Maintain regular contact through emails, newsletters or invitations to company events. Show interest in your former employees' professional successes and personal milestones to build and maintain a positive relationship.

Using alumni networks

Using alumni networks is an effective way to stay connected. Create a platform for former employees to connect, whether through social media, the company website or dedicated platforms. Encourage the sharing of industry knowledge and career opportunities to create further value.

Customised onboarding

A tailored induction programme is essential for a smooth return to work. Personalise onboarding and take into account existing knowledge. Provide mentoring and support to facilitate integration into new developments within the organisation.

The boomerang employee trend is not only an interesting development in the modern world of work, it also offers a number of advantages for companies. The return of former employees provides access to proven skills and knowledge, strengthens the corporate culture and promotes sustainable knowledge sharing. Successful boomerang programmes require active relationship management with former team members. But the effort pays off. Companies such as digital agency Cellular are incorporating boomerang employees into their HR strategy. At a time when flexibility and mutual understanding are increasingly important, the boomerang effect offers an innovative way of managing people and ensuring the long-term success of the business.

About the Author
Annika Handrack
Teamlead Recruitment

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