We’re currently living through a post-pandemic job market reckoning. It’s a great time to be an employee, but the flipside of that coin is that employers don’t have it so easy these days. With power shifting to the hands of the employed, trying to build and maintain a healthy staff feels like an exercise in futility.
One solution, of course, is hiring “boomerang employees.” What does this term mean? Basically, it just refers to employees who leave a company and then come back after a brief period. If you’re struggling to fill open positions, boomerang employees could be real boon for your organization.
Of course, not all boomerang employees are created equal. Here are some factors to consider:
The duration of absence is a critical factor.
How long has a particular employee been away from your company? If the answer is more than a few years, then “boomerang employee” might not be the most accurate terminology. If you’re actively keeping up with trends and working to constantly improve your workplaces practices and culture (which you should be doing), a lot of things are probably changing in your organization. And that means that the longer an employee is away, the harder it will be for them to seamlessly re-enter your workforce.
Ideally, if a person has been away for six to twelve months, they’re in a great position to come back. If your policies haven’t shifted to broadly, you can probably go back as far as about three years. Beyond that, however, is going to be tricky, partially because your workplace has probably changed a lot since then, and partially because the employee in question may have forgotten a lot of what they learned for your particular work environment.
Between six months and three years is a good range to consider, but err on the shorter side of that when possible.
You’ll need to make a better offer.
One mistake that a lot of employers make is offering previous employers the exact same salary and benefits package that they had before. In some cases, we’ve seen employers offer less than what that person was making initially.
Consider this: If you hire a new employee, you’ll have to train them from scratch, and in the current economic climate, you’ll almost certainly be paying that person more than the person they’re replacing. You can cut the training out of that if you convince the previous employee to come back at a higher wage, and you’ll still come out ahead, budget-wise.
On the other hand, if you offer the same amount, the person is only going to take the offer if they’re desperate. That means the chances for dissatisfaction are way higher, which in turn means the person might leave within a couple months and leave you in the exact same place you’re in now.
Trust us when we say that attempting to underpay a boomerang employee is not going to work out in your favor. Just pay the inflated wage you would have paid their replacement and know you’re saving money and time on training. You can’t afford to be greedy when employees have the negotiating power.
Think about why the employee left in the first place.
There are many reasons why an employee might have left your organization. Perhaps they felt the hours weren’t flexible enough. Maybe they didn’t like the pay and thought they’d get a better offer elsewhere. It’s possible they just found their current role to be tedious and they felt like they didn’t have a clear path for upward mobility.
It helps to know why an employee left so that you know what you can offer to convince them to come back. If they were unhappy with their wage, you can offer a higher one, per our previous point. If they were unhappy with the work culture, you can make strides to change that. If they didn’t think they had any upward mobility, you could offer them a similar position to what they had before, only with the promise of a promotion in the near future.
There are a lot of ways to entice a previous employee to come back, but you need to listen to them and focus on what their needs might be. If you can figure out what they’re looking for, you’ll know exactly what to offer to convince them to boomerang.
If an employee was a great fit while they were at your company previously, there’s a very good chance they’ll still be a great fit now. The catch is that you might have some convincing to do. We hope our simple advice helps you bring back your most talented past employees while cultivating a culture that makes people want to return. Good luck!