Losing a good employee can be a trying event for any employer, and certainly one fraught with anger and frustration. Aside from the obvious loss of talent that has likely served you well over the years, the subsequent necessity that is the hiring process is filled with plenty of its own challenges. In addition to the considerable amount of stress that comes with bringing someone new to the fold, a considerable amount of time and money must be spent to recruit, hire, and train new employees to replace those you lost.
To get around this problem, many companies tend to seek out past employees that, one can only hope, left the company on good terms. In the HR world, these potential re-hires are known as “boomerang employees.” Research has suggested that an average Fortune 500 company can save upwards of $12 million in any given year by actively seeking out past employees, rather than go through the normal recruiting channels. But every company can benefit through active recruitment of past employees, and in the end, the return on investment can be huge.
It’s no surprise that the hiring process is a long and time-consuming effort. From working with recruiters to find the right person to spending countless man-hours training someone new, this process is an unfortunate necessity in building a successful company. When re-hiring a former employee, the time investment that goes into bringing them back into the fold is diminished significantly, with major time-consuming efforts, such as interviews, training, and integrating them into the company culture taking little or no time at all. With luck, they’ll even be able to bring back with them a few new skills that can not only improve your company in the long run, but save time that might otherwise be spent introducing them to new rules and processes they might have already learned at their previous place of employment.
If leaving a company for another, potential boomerang employees often bring benefits beyond their skillset. While away at a new venture or working on a freelance basis, returning employees have likely developed a strong network of colleagues and potential clients, all of whom might be eager to jump at the chance for an exciting opportunity with a new company. Given that the boomerang employee has experience working with said company, it’s likely that he knows the type of worker who will likely succeed in any given role, and thus can recommend qualified candidates with whom they’ve worked or associated with in the past.
No Need for a Recruiter
Many companies work with recruiters to attract top talent, but unlike placing a simple Help Wanted online, this process can be long and expensive. Seeking out and bringing boomerang employees back to the fold, as it were, comes with the golden key that opens the door to saving money on expensive recruiters that don’t always guarantee the best possible talent. This also ties into the idea of networking, as future trips to the recruiting pool can be lessened through utilizing the network developed by the boomerang employee after he or she left.
Bringing back a former employee has other benefits behind the immediately apparent. Oftentimes boomerang employees come back with a wealth of new knowledge concerning how their competitors work, which could provide substantial long-term benefits.
But Be Careful…
While the prospect of bringing back a boomerang employee is tempting, it’s important to be aware of pitfalls associated with the practice. For example, the boomerang employee might have left due to negative interactions with other members of the team, or enough time has passed that the employee has changed for the negative. When reaching out to them, you should take the time to understand why they left, and reassure them that there is no animosity or bad blood, nor should you impart the belief that you’re hoping to bring them back due to desperation. Beyond this, there are myriad other potential pitfalls that could make the rehiring process a difficult one. In the end, you should always remember that every situation is unique, and everything – from company politics to salary – should be considered before approaching a potential boomerang employee with an offer to return.