While return to the office debates continues to make headlines, another phenomenon has started to emerge as well, employees are returning to their old jobs. The number of great resignation boomerang employees is increasing, and organizations are not shy about promoting the fact that employees are coming back.
LinkedIn has reported that 4.2% of all new hires for jobs promoted on their platform are boomerang employees. There is no single reason for employees to “boomerang”, but the uncertainty we continue to experience is likely a key factor. Even though the labor market added more than 500,000 jobs, easily beating forecasts, the concerns about inflation and a recession remain. And it doesn’t help when companies like Apple, Peloton, LinkedIn, Bed Bath and Beyond, and others are reporting layoffs.
According to Bloomberg, “So-called “boomerang employees” embody the economic ambiguity of the moment. Earlier this month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed the US labor market added 528,000 jobs in July, beating forecasts more than twofold. Yet just the week prior, data showed that the US economy shrank for a second straight quarter, amplifying concerns about a recession.”
According to two studies mentioned in the article, when comparing boomerang employees to current employees who never left the organization, “reentry yields improvements in compensation, satisfaction, and organizational commitment for boomerangs relative to matched internal employees.” However, the performance of a boomerang employee is the same as matched internal employees, meaning the solid performers before leaving continued to be solid performers when they returned, and underperformers remained underperformers.
The employees tend to be more engaged, perhaps because they are being paid more or because they found the grass isn’t always greener. The companies are basically getting the same employee that left, but with less of an onboarding process since they are already familiar with the culture.
Returning to a previous employer should come after careful consideration for both parties. What was the reason for leaving? If it was a poor culture fit, it’s probably best for both parties to move on. If it was for a new experience that could be of value to the old company, a conversation about returning could open the door to a positive re-engagement.
Fast Company notes that 75% of employees surveyed said they wanted to stay in touch with their former employer. “Two clear priorities among employees looking to (re)enter a place of work emerged from our talent management platform’s Talent Index research. First, over a quarter of the 5,000 respondents pointed to wanting improved training and career guidance, hinting at why they may have left in the first place…Another key factor is evidencing a vibrant work culture despite the disruption in ways of working. One in four respondents prioritized this sense of cohesion over anything else.”
The desire and willingness to come back to previous employers shed new light on the great resignation. It isn’t that corporate culture is toxic, but rather that companies are seeing the benefit of adopting a talent-first mindset to keep employees engaged and motivated. Employees have gone through more change in their professional lives in the past three years than we’ve ever witnessed before, and these changes are providing possibilities for work that didn’t exist before.
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