When Vanessa McNeil, a director of employee communications at Unum, interned with the company 16 years ago, there wasn’t a full-time position available after she graduated college. She never forgot the company culture and the team that launched her career in communications. It’s what fueled her to apply and return to work with the insurance company.
McNeil said, “This company (Unum) took a chance on a 20-year-old college student with very little experience. They believed in me and allowed me to manage projects that fueled my passion for corporate communications. I wanted to come back and be a part of the team that gave me a start.”
Now, companies are hearing more stories like McNeil’s. These ‘boomerang’ employees, people who leave an organization and later return, are the latest hiring trend.
Hiring practices are readjusting two years into the pandemic; sometimes with sweeping changes. The commentary is loud and clear: discussions around remote, hybrid or in-office is still in flux, small businesses work to remain open with half-stocked shelves due to supply shortages, and brick-and-mortar stores continuously compete for online shopping dollars.
Yet, there are more issues that keep business owners and human resource professionals up at night – finding and keeping great workers.
With the nationwide staffing shortage and stretched labor markets, employers welcome former top performers like McNeil back to the office with open arms. Here’s why:
- Reduces Recruiting Costs. Companies should consider the steep costs of recruiting such as testing, branding, website updates to job descriptions, and travel.
- Reduces Onboarding Time. Former employees can return to work faster because they are familiar with business operations.
- Increases Productivity. The transition to productive work steadily increases because they are already familiar with the business model.
- A Shared Comradery. A potential boomerang employee knows the business, people and culture. They watch their former co-workers obtain promotions via LinkedIn and hit the ‘thumbs up’ symbol for the co-worker’s child’s graduation post on Facebook. They follow what their former company does because they had positive work experiences and still feel connected to the company.
- Loyalty & Retention. Let’s face it, employees have a choice. Returning to a previous employer shows they believe in the mission and goals of the organization.
- A Second Chance. Some employees may regret adding to the numbers of the Great Resignation and want back in. In fact, the ‘unretirement’ rate has continued to grow as retirees seek to return to work.
- New & Fresh Ideas. When employees leave to pursue personal or other professional interests, they can add value to a company by bringing current ideas or using acquired skill sets they learned while away, like a new software or graphic design program.
Revamping hiring strategies to include former workers can be a purposeful approach to recruiting. Deploying a strategy that welcomes boomerang employees back to the office can be a win-win for recruiters, business owners and former employees.