Bryony Gibson, Managing Director of Bryony Gibson Consulting, discusses the rise in 'boomerang recruitment' and why going back is becoming the new norm.
With the number of people out of work at a 40 year low, many industries are finding it difficult to recruit highly skilled staff.
Couple that with an evolving workforce where people are loyal when feeling challenged and fulfilled, but quick to broaden their horizons elsewhere if that changes, then the challenge of building a great team is getting tougher and tougher.
So could re-hiring ex-employees be the way to bridge the skills gap? Or is it just a catastrophe waiting to happen?
Well ‘boomerang’ hires have always been a contentious area of recruitment, not least because their success depends heavily on your company policy, the availability of new talent in your sector, how people are welcomed back by old colleagues and the reason they left in the first place.
That means it’s practically impossible to say whether this is the right or wrong choice for you as a business, but re-hiring is a rising trend and a very successful practice for seasonal employers. In an era where recruitment is being defined by regular job hopping, maybe it’s time to reassess your approach.
Concerns that people will leave again quickly, upset team morale or return with the same baggage they left with are common amongst employers; but bringing back previously high performing and engaged recruits has the potential to deliver huge mutual benefit.
Whether the individual departed a year ago, or five years ago, they will have new experience, connections and ideas to offer.
Already familiar with the business, its culture and the people they will be working with, a returning hire can save you time and money in terms of recruitment fees, the induction they require and their ability to hit the ground running almost immediately.
Rather than divide teams, if you get the right former employee it will boost staff retention as co-workers will see that the grass isn’t always greener and your company is in fact worth coming back to.
Boomerang recruitment strategies are now the norm in the USA, where a recent Workforce Institute survey found 76% of HR professionals are happy to recruit former employees; despite nearly half saying they used to have policies in place against this exact practice.
To develop your own plan, why not start by making sure communication channels are open with any valued ex-employees; even if it’s just regular contact through LinkedIn.
Going forward you should be using exit interviews as a way to really get under the skin of why people are leaving. If the time comes to re-hire them, this in-depth knowledge will give you the insight you need in order to make the right decision for both parties.
Once re-hired, you must focus on making the early transition back into the business as smooth as possible. Build a bespoke induction programme that aims to counter any initial awkwardness that could be felt on both sides.
While your ex-employee gets re-accustomed to the workplace, introduce them to the different teams as if they were new to the company and, most importantly, give them very clear guidance in terms of what you expect from the very start.
Of course not all former employees are good re-hire material, but people and organisations are both capable of change and in a lot of cases a move could have been the best thing for everyone.
If you’re a forward-thinking company with a strong culture, boomerang workers can be an untapped resource. By contributing quickly and fitting in effortlessly, they will often repay your decision to hire them with extra effort and loyalty; all good reasons to keep them in mind the next time you need to fill a vacancy.