Despite the changing economic climate, the Great Resignation is far from over.

Businesses around the world are finding it harder than ever to fill open roles, and people are still looking for a change: whether for improved work-life balance, a switch to remote work, improved pay, or even a career or industry change. According to Microsoft’s Work Trend Index, a remarkable 52 percent of Gen Zers and Millennials are likely to consider changing employers in 2022, up three percentage points from last year.

Savvy companies are on the lookout for effective new recruitment strategies—such as rehiring boomerang employees—to ensure they’re attracting the right talent. Recruiting former team members can be a powerful way of securing talented professionals with the skills, experience, and insider knowledge to fit your company culture and hit the ground running.

An impressive 4.5 percent of all new hires on LinkedIn were boomerang employees in 2021, up from 3.9 percent in 2019. So in the face of a talent shortage, attracting your former team members might just be the recruitment strategy you need.

What can rehiring people do for you?

Rehiring people who fit your company culture can be a smart recruitment decision for many companies as it can help support business continuity, lower costs, and reinforce your successes. But what exactly are the benefits?

Faster onboarding

There’s no doubt that rehiring someone means a much faster onboarding process. Both parties know what they’re signing up for, and the person you’re rehiring will already have an in-depth understanding of your culture, processes, and systems.

They’re also likely to have existing relationships with key members of their team. This makes for a smoother transition that demands less from your HR team and reduces your risk.

Although professionals returning to the team might have a smoother transition, it’s still crucial that they get the full onboarding experience.  Not only can you introduce them to important changes, but you’ll also be sure to start things off on the right foot with them and their team.

Higher performance levels

For returners, coming to work for you should be familiar territory. Even if they’re stepping into a different or more senior role, their familiarity with your needs and expectations means they can start operating at full capacity sooner and more effectively.

At the same time, you’re likely to benefit from the experience and skills they’ve developed while working at other organizations. The unique combination of new knowledge, previous experience with your company, and a renewed feeling of loyalty can result in remarkably high performance levels.

Lower recruitment and onboarding costs

Let’s face it, recruiting and onboarding new people is expensive and time-consuming.

With boomerang employees, not only do you cut down on advertising and head-hunting costs, but with a much shorter learning curve, you can significantly reduce your training investment. In fact, long-standing research shows that returners can save your organization between one- and two-thirds on recruitment costs.

Recruitment and retention insights

Former employers hiring boomerang employees benefit from powerful insights into why people leave the company and what can convince them to come back. These findings can help you reassess your retention strategy and inspire future recruitment campaigns.

How do you identify great boomerang candidates?

Boomerang employees come in all shapes and sizes, and their suitability largely depends on how you parted ways. If they left on good terms—for example, for family reasons, to seek out hybrid work, or as part of a pandemic-driven restructure—it’s likely that they’ll fit right back in. Understanding their reasoning also presents an opportunity to address any issues there might have been up front, however minor they may seem.

The most ideal candidates left to explore a new industry or gain additional experience. When they come back, you’ll be able to reap the rewards of their new skills and perspectives.

On the flip side, professionals returning after a long separation might be surprised by how different things are, and that period of adaptation isn’t always easy.

How do you persuade ex-employees to come back?

Everyone is different, and depending on their reasons for leaving, you’ll need a unique approach to their return.

However, there are a few things you can do to expand your pool of potential returners:

  1. Let people go when they are keen to explore new things. It might sound counterproductive, but letting people know they won’t burn bridges will make their potential return a lot more likely—and reassure former team members that they’d be welcomed back. Demonstrating your commitment to their life goals also contributes to a happy work environment, which increases your retention in the first place!
  2. Encourage returns during your offboarding process by keeping your relationship alive and making them feel that they’ll always be welcome. Maintaining a positive connection and establishing a culture of belonging is a highly effective way of incentivizing a return.
  3. Stay in touch, checking in with how they’re doing a month or so after departure. You could even consider setting up an alumni network or newsletter for former team members, hosting regular social events and making sure to advertise job openings to the network.

Bouncing back is the way forward

Boomerang employees are an effective strategy for companies to recruit some of the most productive talent around. Not only will returners hit the ground running, but typically they become some of your most loyal, effective, and resourceful team members. In a tough recruitment market, it might just be the strategy you need to usher in the Great Return.

Tali Sachs

From Tali Sachs

Tali is a content marketing manager at HiBob. She's been writing stories since before she knew what to do with a pen and paper. When she's not writing, she's reading sci-fi, snuggling with her cats, or singing at an open mic.