I’m Comin’ Home: The Boomerang Employee’s Manifesto
Sometimes in life we can’t make up our minds. It’s ok. We’re human. We think the grass is always greener or the other office might have better coffee – something is pulling us in a different direction to a different job.
And then we’re at the new job, but it just doesn’t feel right.
“I want my old job back,” we whisper into the superior coffee.
Ever heard of the term “boomerang employee”? This could be you.
“‘Boomerang employee’ refers to workers who return to work at a company after leaving for some time, whether to take another job or for personal reasons,” explains Sandy Mazur, division president at Spherion Staffing Services.
Spherion recently conducted a “WorkSphere” survey and found that more workers today are considering – or at least open to – the idea of returning to work for a former employer.
“Nearly one-third (29 percent) of American workers say they have ‘boomeranged’ at least once in their career,” says Mazur. “Another 41 percent say they would consider doing so under the right circumstances.”
With so many employers feeling the growing pressure to recruit and retain high-performing, qualified talent in these difficult times, it’s no wonder boomerang employees are such welcome additions to the candidate pool. Employers are happy to welcome back former employees whom they trust and feel comfortable working with.
“More than half (52 percent) of our survey respondents said they work with at least one boomerang teammate,” Mazur says. “If a worker performed well in their previous tenure and remains a solid fit for the company’s culture, it’s likely that worker would be welcomed back.”
So, who tends to boomerang the most? Let’s look at the numbers:
- Male workers (47 percent) are more likely than female workers (35 percent) to at least consider going back to a former company.
- More than one-third (36 percent) of workers ages 45-54 say they have boomeranged at least once, more than any other age group.
- 33 percent of workers ages 35-44 say they have returned to a former company at some point.
“Intangible factors play an equal – if not larger – role in inspiring boomerang interest,” says Mazur. “Many respondents indicated that their previous companies offered schedule flexibility, work/life balance, and cultural fit that their current employers could not successfully replicate.”
What to Do When You Want to Return
You know the saying, “You can never go back home”? Bollocks.
But, if you are lucky and a position at your old employer is available, Mazur says certain challenges still might arise.
“Depending on how long workers have been away from their former companies, it’s possible that the work environment will be significantly different from how they remember it,” she says.
New team members, new clients, and shifts in company culture are some of the factors that boomerang employees will have to discuss with their hiring managers in order to see if the fit is still mutual.
And, of course, the unfortunate fact is that sometimes you really can’t go back home.
“Just because a former worker wishes to come back does not mean that they should automatically get to do so,” Mazur says. “Employers should always ask interested boomerangers why they want to come back and what new skills or abilities they can bring to their new teams.”
Whether or not a former employee feels ready to return is a moot point if the employer doesn’t feel like rehiring would be the best move.
Ultimately, one of the most critical takeaways from Spherion’s survey is that it shows how important it is – now more than ever – to always leave an employer on good terms.
According to Mazur, employees and employers alike are becoming increasingly mindful of how they handle transitions and relationships. If both parties want to keep the door open for a future return, a graceful exit isn’t only expected – it’s necessary.
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