The Life and Work of Boomerang Employees

by | May 30, 2022

The pandemic has made many changes to recruitment and work over the last two years. 

One of the more unique human elements of post-pandemic HR management has been the Boomerang Employee.

 

Boomerang employees are staff members who have left your company, and then returned to your company at a future date. They are, like many pandemic-related creations, not a brand new recruitment entity, but simply an extension and expansion of a particular type of employee who exits a company only to realise the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.


The reason why boomerang employees are having a bit of a moment parallels the behaviours and attitudes of many millions of workers who have sought change amid the Great Resignation – either through choice or necessity, people want something more from their work, be it a better work/life balance, more welfare within work, more career options, or simply more pay for their labour.

From the rise of remote work to the desire for more empathetic leadership techniques, the HR industry has been thrown some staff management curveballs – the boomerang employee is definitely one of the more unique factors affecting modern recruitment strategy, but it is one HR directors should be aware of.

 

Is “Boomeranging” rising?

 

“According to LinkedIn, this source accounted for 4.5 per cent of all new hires among companies in 2021, up from 3.9 per cent in 2019”. So yes, in short, it is on the rise. 

 

Are boomerang employees a “pandemic” issue?

No, and boomeranging has been going on for decades in almost every industry. However, the unique pressures on employers and employees caused by the pandemic has, as the stats above prove, caused it to rise. 

 

The APAC region hasn’t borne the brunt of pandemic-related employee attrition like other markets, however, the global recruitment landscape of late has been scarred by the incredible weight of employee turnover in almost every industry. It’s worth remembering the APAC jobs market has suffered from its share of the pandemic:

 

  • In India, in some companies “more than 50% of job-seeking adults were looking for opportunities in industries with little or no experience, and nearly 70% were looking to switch industries”.
  • “In 2021, the trend started to manifest across Asia late last year with reports of talent shortages in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines”.
  • “Nine in ten (91%) small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Asia Pacific & Japan (APJ) say workforce volatility, including the Great Resignation, has directly impacted their digital transformation plans”.

 

With staff turnover rising in the APAC region the case stands that recruiters and HR managers must start to formulate long term plans to incorporate the possibility of re-hiring old staff. So employees and employers, be aware!

Why do boomerang employees want to go back to old employers?

There are many reasons, but in the main, familiarity, work culture, and a sense of belonging rank high. 

As a MintLounge piece titled Covid and the rise of the boomerang employee points out, the reasons are personal, and often include a hybrid mix of cultural and professional impacts on the person. 

The article mentions dissatisfaction with a new employer, a miss-match of working culture expectations and a lack of gelling with new employers as all major reasons to return to an old employer.

How does technology help?

While legacy recruitment practice states a reluctance to hire old employees, technology has provided a bridging tool between ex-staff and ex-managers that has decentralised work-based relationships away from the office. 

 

Long gone are the days of the exit interview being the last word in an employee’s time at a company. Now, LinkedIn and social media networks, not to mention industry roundtables and community events provide platforms for professionals to keep in touch and reopen the employment door when, and if, needed. 

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How do you recruit boomerang employees?

In an era of critical staff shortages, boomerang employees have provided succour to hiring woes. But companies have to be obviously and clearly open to returning staff to take advantage of these types of job seekers, and employees need to be careful about how and when to try and re-open doors. 

 

Advice varies, but there are two key things to remember when considering boomerang employees and employers, and how to factor them into your hiring or job-seeking mix:

 

  • Keep your channels open: while each company and professional will have their predilections in regards to working together again, the employer brand network will always be a beacon for old employees if they are looking to return. However, keeping your channels open is one thing: the whole process of boomeranging starts at the exit interview – if employers don’t let staff know they’re open to them returning, how will they know to return?

 

  • Remember that times and people change: for candidates, this means understanding and being open to the fact the company you remember may not exist exactly how it once did. There could be (and probably will be) new processes and styles of working. For companies, don’t expect your ex-staff to be the same as before. They have grown, and become (hopefully!) more skilled, so don’t pigeonhole them!

 

Employees cannot expect to boomerang back into your company, and employers shouldn’t expect every staff member to want to return to them.

However, boomeranging can be planned for, most effectively through subtle curation of recruitment and advocacy networks, and utilising the ubiquitousness of tech to break down barriers to ex-staff and ex-employers!

 

Need help in finding tech talents for a Singapore-based company? You can count on Datasearch Consulting to lend you a hand. 

 

While the talent market has undoubtedly become more competitive for both recruiters and HR professionals, we remain dedicated to connecting our partners with the right tech or IT talent. 

 

Connect with us at Datasearch Consulting for more information about our recruitment solutions for tech companies and functions.

Umaira Ahmad is an Associate at Datasearch Consulting, a leading executive recruitment firm specialising in the Data & Technology sectors.

You can download their FREE comprehensive guide on “The Complete Guide to Navigating your Job Search – 5 Proven Steps to Secure your Ideal Fintech or Data Role”. Alternatively, you can view the Datasearch Consulting website or contact them directly on info@datasearchconsulting.com for a more detailed discussion.

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