The Boomerang Employee: Rehiring Former Talent

The Boomerang Employee: Rehiring Former Talent

Author: Rosie Greaves, LaborIQ Staff Writer

Oct 18, 2022

So, you’ve collected your resumes, and one stands out. A former employee has bravely reapplied. You have numerous opinions and thoughts until you reach the epiphany of . . . shortened training periods. Then, your face lights up as you realize this could be a mutually beneficial endeavor. Do you dare?

Returning staff members can be both awkward and enlightening. After all, they left for a reason, right?

This begs the question: Can your company learn from their exit and re-entrance In short, yes.

The thing about workers is that, as much as the workplace might treat them like they have ownership of their talent, that's far from the truth. People are ever-changing, ever-perceptive, and ever-their-own-person. So as soon as they feel underappreciated and overworked, there's a good chance they'll look for alternative employment.

The bottom line: Emotional intelligence is making waves in professional settings, so you must take the time to get to know your employees so that they feel heard.

Former staff returning to your company, in many ways, gives you a second chance. It’s like a person moving away from their hometown, only to realize that the town was where they felt most comfortable. Yes, there will be outside factors, such as the rising cost of living. However, you're a place where they feel they can return.

With that said, let's explore in more detail how to approach re-hiring former talent:

What to know when rehiring an former employee


It (Might) Not Always Be Sunshine and Rainbows

Despite the perks of hiring former employees, there might be a flipside to consider. For instance, their leaving may have caused inconvenience for the rest of your staff, of whom some may be more forgiving than others.

So, to help combat the awkwardness, lay your cards on the table politely, but don’t overstep the mark. This might mean organizing a meeting with existing team members and returnees to discuss business going forward. Again, it's essential to proactively address any issues and be open to answering questions from both sides. Employee surveys reveal that effective communication policies can help employees adapt to change and increase retention and engagement. In fact, respectful communication resulted in a 95% boost in occupational resilience, job satisfaction and loyalty.

The takeaway: Communication is critical.

Just keep in mind that natural wariness and unprofessionalism can walk the same fine line. So, communicating correctly with everyone involved could save you lots of hassle. This way, hopefully, the person rejoining the team won’t be met with awkward shuffles and stares from their coworkers. Of course, this is all the more important in workplaces with low turnover rates. However, the same applies to all environments; positivity from all parties is vital to ensure the viability of this working arrangement.

A Clean Slate

On a similar note, if you’re rehiring somebody you had reservations about previously, make this a new chapter. This individual may have learned a lot about themselves and/or how to function in a workplace since you last shared an office or virtual workspace. Who knows, perhaps you’ll be able to use some of their new skills to revitalize your workplace and reinvigorate your team. Just remember, you won’t be able to benefit from perks like this unless you’re fully open to embracing this new arrangement.

Service with a Smile

If you’re happy they’re returning, let them know! Don't think being professional means you have to adopt a stoic exterior and have no opinions. People love knowing how beneficial they are, and many of us are guilty of self-doubt. Needless to say, it’s not your job to be your new recruit’s therapist and cheerleader! However, affirming their talent and being grateful for their hard work comes at no cost and works wonders for setting a warm tone for your working relationship.

Checking In

It’s imperative that you check in with returning colleagues. There’s a good chance they encountered a few bumps along their journey back to working with you. Of course, not all of these bumps will negatively reflect on your company, and landing back in your workplace is probably something they haven’t dreaded. But always remain open to conversation and constructive criticism.

They may have had a tough few months on the personal front, requiring them to work in a more comfortable, familiar environment for their mental health. Whatever the case may be, leaving out the context never fairs well.

If You’re the Returnee

If you happen to be the person reintroducing yourself into a former workplace, this section is for you.

Consider all of the above and use it as fuel for conversation. Attempt to avoid avoiding… and what we mean by that is, the artificial nature of workplace chatter can sometimes be inauthentic and tiresome. So, for example, if you’re asked why you left, be constructively honest and positive in your response. Cut the trash talk and focus on what you’ve learned on your journey while you were away from the company.

Boomerang Employees

Our Final Thoughts

Before wrapping up this blog post, we’ll leave you with a few words of advice for employees looking to return to a previous workplace and employers considering rehiring former talent:

For those returning:

When it comes to the nuances of your own communication style, you know best. Just be sure to communicate clearly, be honest, and stay positive. So grab this new journey by the horns, throw yourself back into work and rebuild and foster meaningful working relationships.

For those welcoming former employees back:

Capitalize on the fact that you can navigate the to-do’s of the day with a sense of relief that you have a new(ish) member of your team who knows their stuff! Pour the energy you would have spent training a fresh recruit into ensuring effective communication. Also, if previous issues have been brought to your attention, be sure to listen and address them to ensure that things are smoother this time. After all, listening skills and acknowledgment = respect, which subsequently equals higher retention rates.

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