26. March 2024

Why is everyone talking about… boomerang employees?

Personio Pulse: This Week in HR - 2

Welcome to Personio Pulse: This Week in HR, where each week we take a look at the latest trends in the world of work, what you need to know about them and what they mean for you as an HR professional. 

This week, we’re covering the concept of boomerang employees and what your organisation might want to do to encourage them.

What you need to know

Have you ever hired an employee who used to work for you? If you have, you’ve brought back a ‘boomerang employee.’ This is an employee who has resigned, gone to another organisation and come back in a completely new or similar role. 

Though it might feel like these employees are exceedingly rare, research from Harvard Business Review tells us that around 28% of “new” hires between 2019 and 2022 would fit the criteria of boomerang hires. 

Additionally, the latest data from workforce intelligence platform Revelio Labs has found that number is growing. They noted an increase of 30% in boomerang employees since the pandemic, which doesn’t seem to be slowing down. So, what should organisations do?

What others are saying about it 

As Özlem Simsek, managing director of recruitment specialist Robert Walters explains: “The post-pandemic bounce back saw record numbers of employees leave their jobs in what was billed as 'The Great Resignation'. However, our research indicates the first signs of 'The Great Regret' - with 55% of professionals stating that they would like to return to their pre-Covid employer, a mere 18 months after leaving.”

The idea of the Great Resignation being followed by the “Great Regret” is compelling. And, as Özlem goes on to state, this could be of great benefit to organisations: "Numerous vacancies are difficult to fill, so welcoming former employees who left on good terms back on board is definitely a good idea. After all, they are familiar with the way of working and the company culture and need less training time, which only speeds up and facilitates the onboarding process. 

Özlem adds: “Moreover, they are also more likely to be more closely involved and committed to the business, just because they returned completely at their own initiative."

What that means for you

Whether to boost employee sentiment or manage hiring budgets, organisations should consider the following when it comes to employees boomeranging back:

  • Recognise the value of the boomerang. Returning employees are often more cost effective for your business because they are more aware of your organisation’s processes, stakeholders and how work is done. Organisations may benefit from a mindset shift of seeing boomerangs as employees on a sort of “symbolic secondment.” 

  • Establish an alumni network. Departing employees can often be your biggest champions or your biggest detractors. To help establish a great referral system, many organisations (like Deloitte) establish “alumni networks” and host events specifically catered to keeping past employees engaged. 

  • Make offboarding a breeze. What happens when an employee resigns at your organisation? One of the best things you can do for your boomerang efforts is to treat them to a meaningful and productive offboarding process. There are software solutions to help, but the main point is to leave employees with a positive final impression. 

What else should I read? 

That's all for this week's edition of Personio Pulse: This Week in HR. Check back next week as we continue to dissect the latest trends impacting the ways we work. 

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Max Specht

Max Specht

Max Specht is a Senior Content Marketing Manager at Personio. He enjoys writing and discussing topics related to employee engagement, leadership development and process optimisation.

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