A pandemic is the perfect setting to upend life and work. The Great Resignation, low unemployment, reluctance to re-enter the job market in uncertain times, and the waxing and waning of said pandemic have wreaked havoc on the ability of companies to maintain a full workforce.

Hiring managers are finding that sometimes the employees who left want to return to the company. This is no longer the taboo that it once was.

Why are employees coming back?

Data from LinkedIn shows that the number of workers returning to previous employers accounted for 4.5 percent of new hires in 2021. There are a lot of reasons someone might choose to return to a previous employer.

  • Better financial and growth opportunities at the new job may give them leverage to negotiate better compensation or a higher level position with a previous employer.
  • The company may be in a better place than when they left, making it a more attractive option.
  • They may realize that they left a position that was a good fit.
  • They miss their team of co-workers.

Should you rehire them?

Although some leaders are hesitant, there are motivations for hiring a boomerang candidate.

  • They are familiar with your company culture and you know how they fit in.
  • They have added new skills and experiences to their resume, making them a more valuable team player.
  • Their return is a signal to other employees that this is a good place to work.
  • They don’t have to be recruited or trained before they can be productive.

Is it always a good idea?

With all of the positives of rehiring a previous employee, there are some issues to carefully consider.

  • They left once and may be more prone to do it again.
  • They may feel entitled to their previous level of benefits even though they are technically new hires.
  • They may hold a grudge against a current employee.
  • If they are rehired at a better compensation package than when they left, it may signal to others that the way to get ahead is to leave the company.

Moving forward

Interviewing a potential boomerang employee will require transparency on both sides. The issue that caused the employee to walk in the first place needs to be addressed head-on. Both sides need to verify what will be different this time.

Many employers are learning that putting talent first is the key to stemming turnover. Investing in their employees’ careers through additional training, advancement opportunities, mentoring and other avenues make them more attractive to top talent, including former employees. Boomerang employees are a sign that the entire employment ecosystem may not be broken. It may just need some adjustment and recalibration.