Should You Hire Boomerang Employees at Your Small Business?

Mary Lorenz

In today’s competitive hiring environment, employers are having a hard time finding qualified talent to fill key positions. The challenge is forcing employers to change their definition of the “ideal” candidate and explore alternative talent pools. One talent pool that’s getting a lot of attention lately are boomerang employees. These are employees who return to work for their former employer.

While hiring former employees may have once carried a stigma, more employers are seeing the benefits of it and recruiting ex-staff members to fill gaps in their organization. In fact, a January 2018 survey found that nearly 2 in 5 employers (39 percent) planned to hire former employees this year.

Of course, hiring anyone comes with its risks, and former employees are no exception. Before you make your next (re)hire, consider the pros and cons of bringing your ex-employees back on board.


Pro: Former employees require less time to get up to speed, as they are already familiar with your company and culture, understand how it operates and have (hopefully) already been onboarded.


Pro: Hiring former employees tends to be less expensive than hiring a new employee, as you do not have to use as many resources to recruit them.


Pro: Bringing employees back can boost morale. In most cases, not only is the former employee is happy to be back, it also shows current employees that your company is a place people want to come back to, re-engaging them in their work.


Pro: Former employees come in with historical knowledge of the company, yet they’ve also gained valuable experience while they were away and come back with a fresh perspective. It’s the best of both worlds.


Con: There’s a reason (or reasons) they left in the first place. It is critical that you address this issue prior to rehiring them. Did the employee leave of his or her own volition? If so, why, and what has changed to make them want to come back? On the other hand, if the employee was laid off, you may want to stay away entirely.


Con: While bringing back an employee can boost morale, it can also have the opposite effect if the person clashed with colleagues or had a toxic attitude that affected the office. Find out how your current staff members feel about them coming back and why before you make any key decisions.

4 Tips for Hiring Boomerang Employees

  1. Stay in contact. If an employee leaves on good terms, keep the lines of communication open. Follow them on social media. Consider creating an alumni group for former employees to stay in touch and network (they can also be great referrals).
  2. Up the ante. Depending on why the employee left to begin with, you may need to offer a better deal they had before they left in order to lure them back. This could be in the form of money, of course, or it could also mean offering more flexible more, more PTO, a promotion, etc.
  3. Remain objective. When interviewing, make sure you hold your former employee up to the same standards as you do new applicants. You may find that you’re favoring the ex-employee because they’re familiar - not necessarily because they’re the best person for the job.
  4. Create a policy. Create a formal policy around hiring former employees, outlining basic rules, considerations and eligibility for rehire.

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