‘Boomerang Hires’: are they worth a second chance?
In this guest article, Tom Lakin, Consultancy Practice Director at Resource Solutions, shares his five considerations when thinking about rehiring a previous employee.
As fears of a recession grow and many industries face turbulent times ahead, it’s no surprise that businesses like Disney are rehiring trusted talent. Hiring new, external talent always carries an element of risk – will an individual be able to replicate the success achieved in previous roles, and will they be happy and productive in your organisation?
Nearly 50 percent of executive new hires fail within 18 months. It’s an expensive mistake too – when taking into account recruitment, onboarding and training costs, the outlay on a ‘bad hire’ can be up to three times the employee’s base salary.
However, in times of uncertainty, businesses are increasingly choosing familiarity over the unknown – boomerang hires accounted for 4.3% of hires in 2021, compared to only 2% in 2010. Most interesting is people’s openness to return to a previous employer – up to 48% would be willing to try and get their old job back.
There are clear benefits to hiring people you already know, and who know your business. But be wary of a straight-to-market approach – cutting corners and skipping essential processes won’t save you time and money in the long run. Here are five recommendations to maximise the chances of a successful boomerang hire.
1. Avoid unstructured interviews
There’s a tendency when interviewing boomerang candidates for the interview process to be a series of informal chats, rather than a robust interviewing process. When interviewing returning candidates, there needs to be a focus on why they are looking to return, why they might not have been happy in their most recent role, what anxieties the candidate has about returning and how you can minimise the frustrations that caused them to leave in the first place.
2. Don’t skip onboarding
One reason many people regret changing jobs is ‘shift shock’ – when a new position or company is very different from what candidates were led to believe. This problem is largely avoided by boomerang hires – both the employee and employer know the strengths and weaknesses of the other.
However, a common mistake when re-hiring talent is to skip the employee onboarding process. While ‘boomerang employees’ are likely to be familiar with your processes, some policies may have changed since they left. Onboarding allows employers to reiterate core values and remind rehires of the support mechanisms in place to ensure that, this time, they choose to stay.
3. Prepare to hit the ground running
One of the criticisms of boomerang hiring is that both the employee and employer are taking the easy way out. Surely there was a reason the two ‘split up’ before? The reality is that boomerang hires significantly outperform new hires. Although it’s also worth noting that internal hires – i.e., those promoted or transferred internally – outperform both external and boomerang hires.
Boomerang hires typically have a quicker road to success than other external hires. A large part of the new employee journey is navigating company processes and culture – much of this learning has already been achieved by boomerang hires.
4. Share their learning throughout the business
‘Boomerangers’ will also have gained new knowledge and perhaps new skills in their interim employment. New jobs bring new training and new learning. It’s important to ensure that boomerang hires bring this new learning with them if they return to your organisation. One of the best ways to ensure this is adding an extra step to the selection process which asks returning candidates to present back their learnings from their most recent employer and how they intend to use this if they return.
5. Leave the door open
Some of the shortfalls that led an individual to leave your organisation may still exist upon their return, so giving a boomerang hire the opportunity to feedback and receive continual support, even beyond the initial onboarding process, will be essential to their long-term job satisfaction.
Finally, a solid offboarding process and exit interviews can help employees feel positive about the business on their way out, and therefore be more likely to return. Leaving a good final impression will leave the door open to boomerang employees. And exit interviews are a valuable way of gathering information from employees who have nothing to lose from sharing their honest feedback.
There is undoubtedly still a skills shortage in the labour market, and previous hires are a relatively untapped pool of talent that more and more businesses are looking to.