How ‘Boomerang Employees’ Can Help Your Business Weather a Tough Job Market

09.20.2022 Sara Brasfield4 min

First, there was the Great Resignation, in which more than 47 million American workers quit their jobs in 2021—with many of those workers opting for more attractive opportunities at other employers.

One year later, a new trend is taking shape: a rising number of workers who recently left their jobs are now interested in returning to their former employers. A recent workforce survey found that 43 percent of workers who switched jobs during the pandemic now feel that their former job and employer was a better situation. Roughly one out of five workers who changed roles have since returned to their former employer.

In a competitive job market where quality hires are tough to land, these job-hopping workers—dubbed “boomerang employees”—could be a rich opportunity for any business looking to fill open positions. Read on for an overview of what these employees are seeking from a return—and how these repeat hires could be a boon for your business.

Why Do Former Employees Want to Come Back to Your Business?

Although the motivating factors for a potential return will vary from one employee to the next, the common motivations driving workers back to an old employer often include one or more of the following:

  • Disappointment with their new position and/or employer. In many cases, this is because the promises of that new job—which could range from advancement opportunities to flexible work arrangements—weren’t delivered once they started work.
  • Dissatisfaction with the company culture. A company’s workplace culture, including its emphasis on work-life balance, can be difficult to evaluate as a prospective hire—and companies can easily “dress up” their culture to make it more appealing for potential hires.
  • The pursuit of career advancement. Some employees may have left your company to take a more senior position. If they see advancement opportunities open up at your company, they may be eager to jump back over and continue climbing the professional ladder.
  • Leverage in salary negotiations. Given the tough job market, some workers who don’t love their current roles may inquire with your business to see if they can increase their salary by returning to the company. One recent report focused on boomerang employees found that these workers secure, on average, a 25 percent pay increase by agreeing to come back.

The Benefits of Hiring a ‘Boomerang Employee’

When a business is able to hire a former employee who left the company in good standing—and who has the right mix of skill sets and work experience to fulfill their new role—the value of this reunion can make the hire feel like a home run. Boomerang employees can deliver the following benefits:

  • Reduced onboarding. While it’s always important to properly onboard every employee, a boomerang employee is more familiar with your business and will inevitably experience a faster learning curve. They’ll know how the company works, have familiarity with certain systems and processes, and have an easier time knowing where to turn for help or collaboration.
  • Higher job satisfaction. Since boomerang employees have a better sense of what to expect as an employee of your company, they’re less likely to experience the disappointment that some hires may feel when their hopes and expectations don’t come to fruition.
  • More cost-effective recruiting. Due to their familiarity with your company, and the mutual interest of both parties, the cost of recruiting boomerang employees is often significantly less than other hires, saving between one-third and two-thirds of the cost of a first-time hire.
  • Diversified skills and experiences. Because of their experience working in different roles at different companies, boomerang employees offer a diversified background and perspective that can be an asset for your business.

What Risks Does a Business Face When Hiring a Former Employee?

For most employers, the biggest fear of hiring a boomerang employee is that the employee will end up leaving again. While this is a legitimate concern, and should be addressed during the recruiting and interview stages, it’s helpful to keep in mind that the reduced recruiting and onboarding costs still make a boomerang employee a more justifiable hiring risk.

Every potential employee presents the risk of turnover, but boomerang employees offer the benefit of a lower acquisition cost.

Turning Boomerang Employees Into a Valuable Recruiting Channel

For businesses struggling to win over top job applicants and fill open positions, boomerang employees could be an untapped resource that alleviates some of the challenges brought by the current job market. New applications from well-regarded former employees should be elevated because of the advantage your business has: given the applicant’s familiarity with your company, they’re likely trying to come back for a reason.

In addition, your business should pay attention to former employees who are publicly posting about a job search on LinkedIn, or who have articulated an interest in rejoining the business. These leads should be passed on to recruiters who can engage the prospect and see if there’s a good potential fit.

An advertising campaign targeted to former employees—which can be designed and launched through LinkedIn, among other digital channels—can also help spread the word about new opportunities those individuals may want to pursue.

As your hiring department works to fill open positions, a digital ad strategy can be an effective tool in targeting this niche audience, raising awareness of current employment opportunities, and increasing applications from qualified professionals who can quickly help your business reach its goals.Looking for a digital advertising partner to help design, launch and manage this recruiting campaign? Contact us today—we’re here to help.

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About the Author

Sara Brasfield

Sara is the Content Marketing Manager for Cox Media’s corporate team in Atlanta, with a passion for writing and delivering relevant insights for advertisers. With more than seven years of experience in B2B marketing, Sara aims to help Cox Media’s current and future clients connect with their customers find new and unique ways to grow their business. Outside of the (now virtual!) office, Sara loves spending time running, reading and supporting her favorite teams (Go Braves & Gamecocks!).

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