Would You Hire a Boomerang Employee?

John Krautzel
Posted by

When you're dealing with a limited talent pool, a boomerang employee — a worker who's left your company but is willing to come back — can be a great way to find qualified talent and minimize your risk. Before you make the offer, it's important to consider whether or not a returning candidate is the right fit, right now.

Pros of Hiring a Boomerang Employee

With an unknown job candidate, there's always an element of risk. Is he being truthful about his expertise? Can he navigate client meetings without supervision? With a boomerang employee, you don't need to ask those questions. Since you've already worked together, you know his strengths and weaknesses. You have a sense of how he'd fit in with the team, which eliminates some of the stress and guesswork of the hiring process.

Boomerang workers can also save time and money. You don't need to worry about extensive onboarding and training — these employees are familiar with your workflow and communication practices, and unless something has changed drastically, they can slip into the daily grind easily.

Drawbacks for Employers and Staff

Hiring a boomerang employee isn't without challenges. Some of the biggest drawbacks happen when your idea of "how it used to be" doesn't match the current reality. Chances are, both you and the employee have grown and evolved since he worked for your company. If either of you hold too tight to the past, it can be difficult to adjust to the new situation.

Depending on how long the worker has been gone, staff cohesion can be an issue. Did any of your current workers have problems with the employee during his original tenure with the company? If so, those old frustrations can resurface and cause dissension in the team.

Deciding When to Re-Hire Workers

If you're deciding between a new job candidate and a potential boomerang employee, weighing the pros and cons can help. Start by assessing how the boomerang worker's current skill set fits your job requirements. Do they have the practical experience, characteristics and skills you need? To eliminate the risk of possible office conflicts, it's helpful to have an honest discussion with your team. If they're excited to welcome the worker back, it's a good sign.

Finally, allow plenty of time for discussions with the employee himself. An informal coffee meeting, an office visit and a whole-team meeting can help you get reacquainted. Multiple meetings give everyone involved time to process and figure out if re-hiring is the right decision. If not, you can walk away without worrying about a wasted investment. If you're both ready to move forward, you can do so with confidence.

Hiring a boomerang employee is one way to build your team and increase productivity while keeping costs low. By proceeding with caution, you can ensure that it's the best decision for your company and the employee.

Image courtesy of Gerrit Bes at Flickr.com


Become a member to take advantage of more features, like commenting and voting.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Stacy O thanks for your comment. Certainly agree. If the atmosphere is toxic, definitely stay away. My experience has shown that the abusers outlast us all. I hope you were able to professionally explain why you left the company - telling HR about the abusers - again in a professional manner. It could be that HR is not aware of the issues. What I have learned from my experience is to never burn your bridges because you never know what the future might bring. All the best.

  • Stacy O.
    Stacy O.

    It’s tempting but my self worth and integrity won’t allow it. The grass can be dead on the other side and I wouldn’t go back to being treated like a second class citizen while I do all the work. If the abusers ever leave I would consider it.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @David O thanks for your comment. I totally agree and have found that to be the case. Actually, I am a boomerang employee. I found out quickly that the grass was not greener. Grateful that I was able to come back but that doesn't happen to everyone. So it's very true that we need to think twice before taking action. It's okay to look to see what's out there but we should always do a serious pro/con list before we take the plunge. Anyone else a boomerang employee? Let us know about your experience.

  • David O.
    David O.

    Yes, depending on the companies need. When an employee leaves a company for more pay or better benefits vs stability they realize that the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence. Hence, they want to return and think twice before they quit again usually showing improvements in work habits and job performance.

Jobs to Watch