Boomerang employees – should employers revisit the past?
Employees who leave their place of work but later return in the hope of being reappointed – otherwise known as ‘boomerang employees’ – represent a growing trend within human resources. Experts in
human capital management advise employers to evaluate the needs of the business versus the value of what a candidate brings to the job.
Staff churn is not a new phenomenon, but the frequency with which former employees are returning to their former employers is an interesting development, says Nicol Myburgh, Head: CRS Technologies HCM Business Unit.
“The trend is yet another result of the massive impact of COVID-19 on human capital management across all sectors and industries. The work from home or hybrid work model is a consequence of the pandemic. The post-COVID job seeker now places a premium on flexibility and work-life balance, which is seen on par with other factors such as pay, work environment and job requirements that are always part of the negotiation. This flexibility is what workers are looking for,” says Myburgh.
Myburgh says as industries digitally transform to remain competitive in the 4IR-driven digital economy, the reality is that people can – and do – move, but sometimes they find their way back to what they were used to. To a certain extent, the pandemic forced employers and employees to take stock of their situation and re-evaluate their aspirations and ambitions. Leaving a place of work in today’s economy is not viewed in the same light as was the case ten or twenty years ago – today people are more in tune with how they will cope – if they will cope – and if there really is a mutually beneficial job opportunity on the table.”
“There is a lot of movement of people in markets because of changes like this. Business owners and captains of industry have to be able to adapt,” says Myburgh.
This means being able to accurately assess the pros and cons of a decision to rehire a former employee.
The risk factor and boomerang employees
According to CRS Technologies, it is very important for employers to understand why an employee left. This aspect will likely dominate discussion.
“It’s a starting point,” Myburgh adds. “It’s the basis for the conversation. From an employer’s perspective, it’s important to understand what led to the decision to go and why giving the employee another opportunity makes business sense. For the employee, it is also important to ensure that this ‘next opportunity’ really is a fresh start. If there were grievances, have these been addressed? If there was unfair treatment, favouritism or other issues that impacted relationships, have these been sorted out?
“On the positive side, by rehiring a former employee the business has a far better idea of who they are hiring and because of this knowledge of attributes, strengths, weaknesses and acumen for the job, they don’t have to invest so much in training and onboarding. This allows the business to tap into the person’s skills almost straight away.”
However, there is risk.
Myburgh says one of these is the further widening of the gap between recruitment promises and employee experience.
“The last thing business owners want is a deepening of the void between what the employer expects and what the employee is willing to do. Research shows that misunderstanding creeps into delivery on key performance indicators, and the need for fair compensation and personal development opportunities. This is the risk factor and boomerang employees bring this issue to the fore.”