Rehiring Tips: Welcoming Back ‘Boomerangs’

Rehiring Tips: Welcoming Back ‘Boomerangs’ in a Tight Market

With so many companies competing for skilled job candidates these days, you may sometimes wish you could master the art of rehiring of a few former employees who were great workers.

If so, you’re not alone. In a recent Robert Half study on rehiring, 87 per cent of Canadian human resources managers said they would welcome back a returning employee who left on good terms.

Managers cite increased expertise, broader perspectives and familiarity with company culture among the benefits of these so-called “boomerang” hires. Barring situations where employees leave due to irreconcilable differences — a bad cultural fit or lapse of ethics on the job — rehiring can reduce training time and boost company morale. “Former employees are already familiar with the work culture, expectations, and training requirements of the organization, which means less ramp-up time and fewer surprises,” said Dianne Hunnam-Jones, Canadian president of Accountemps. “Organizations should keep this in mind when an employee is leaving and make an effort to ensure that exit interviews are productive and civil, leaving the door open for great employees to return down the road.”

Sounds great, but rehiring may not be as easy as you think. Seventy per cent of Canadian professionals polled for the Robert Half study said they were unlikely to apply for a job with a former employer. So simply hanging out the Welcome Back sign may not be enough to snag former employees in a labour market where skilled professionals continue to be in high demand. Here are some ways to up the ante for successful rehiring:

Make the exit memorable

To keep the rehiring door open, you’ll need to make sure you treat exiting employees well. Too many organizations focus primarily on providing orientation for new employees and have little or no process in place when someone departs. Be sure to set up an exit interview and then listen — really listen — to your departing employee. The exit interview is also an excellent time to let valued employees know they’ll be welcomed back if they choose to return.

Use social media to promote ongoing relationships

Create and maintain social networks that give employees a sense of lifelong connection with your organization. More than simply enabling them to keep in touch, hosting a network on LinkedIn, Facebook or elsewhere can help communicate that your company is a vibrant place to work. If you don’t have one of these online alumni groups, now is the time to start one. If your organization has had a group for a while, you’ll want to be sure it is still active and not languishing. You want your online image to reinforce the kind of memories that will bring boomerangs back to you.

Focus on rehiring with a millennial mindset

Members of the millennial generation — the cohort born between 1978 and 1999 — often say they see career benefits of changing jobs. This preference and the changing job market mean that many millennials expect to have a variety of jobs throughout their careers. As an employer, you’ll have greater success landing boomerang workers in this age group if you focus on enhanced training, work challenges and flexibility (think work-life balance, telecommuting and comp time). The good news is that — thanks to their flexible mindset — many millennials may be more open than their older colleagues to being rehired.

Bringing back talented former employees is a worthy goal — one that can save you time and work in the long run. And the benefits don’t stop there. Even if not all the boomerangs you target land back at your company, you’ll most likely get some promising new referrals as a result of your efforts.