Despite your best efforts to retain exemplary employees, the challenge of new opportunities, and the gravity of exciting career possibilities will always look to disrupt your trusted employee’s current occupational orbit. You hired them; it won’t come as a surprise that their talents attract exterior attention. And should a vital member of your team opt for greener pastures to them at that junctor, it doesn’t mean that your professional paths won’t land you on familiar footing. 

With curiosity appeased and a new perspective of what’s the exact fit for them, your former hired hand may have designs on a vocational reunion. Orthodox practices in business would dictate that employment is a one-act play; encores need not apply. A reprise of service of someone who left on good terms could be mutually beneficial for all invested participants, as long as all are aware of the newly evolved nature of circumstances. And then again, there may be obstacles too cumbersome to predict or navigate.

The term “boomerang workers” is a phrase used to describe when former employees who departed their post on agreeable terms, coming back to their old position or perhaps a new one in a company that they were once employed. Though some businesses enact a strict, no rehire policy, more and more companies are shedding the old stigma and embracing the advantages of welcoming back a past colleague. If your organization permits HR to reactivate an idle file of a preceding employee, is it a good idea to do so?

As with all personnel decisions in business, it’s complicated.

Looking to fill a position in your department is itself a full-time job. Countless websites offer services that claim their algorithm can align you with the right fits, recruiters are in abundance, and job boards can wrangle up those jobseekers who may be looking for any port in a storm. There’s a lot of uncertainty and vetting to sift through to find a person perfect for the position. Here are the pros of reinvesting in a boomerang candidate.

Training costs of an ex-staff member are significantly lower than that of a new hireling. Onboarding a new hire pulls valuable resources from your operations. Precious hours inundating new employees with troves of information can often be inefficient. There is less of a runway need for a boomerang employee to take off and autonomously fly at high productivity altitudes.  Minimizing the capital, bandwidth, and time invested in this process will prove net positive.

There is a familiarity with office culture and systemic processes. It takes a greenhorn employee three to six months in some estimates to be comfortable in their latest assignment. Assimilating to their surroundings, spending less time asking procedural questions, and understanding workplace dynamics will expedite their transition.

Risk is lower for the management team. Strengths and weaknesses are easily identifiable with candidates you have a history with at that company.  Knowing how to maximize their productivity and communicate more seamlessly with them than their unfamiliar counterparts will pay dividends. Even if there has been turnover in the team, they’ll work directly with those in charge that can set up the boomerang employee better for success as trust is already established working relationship foundation.

While working outside your institution, there will be new skills your former employee has picked up. Their unique experiences and perspective, while away, may have unlocked their full potential. They could have more tools in their toolbox in the form of certifications, leadership expertise, or knowledge of an entirely new field in which the lessons they’ve learned will inform their decision making processes.

Working side-by-side with a friendly face you haven’t seen for some time can boost team morale. Commradiere can reenergize a well-oiled machine in need of a jolt. Ultimately, when we leave a job, it’s our mentors and coworkers we miss the most.

There are disadvantages to getting back in the saddle with a formerly crucial cog.

An expectation of a salary raise may throw a wrench in the reunion.  One can assume that a more substantial salary request as if the ex-employee never left the company, is on the table. At the same time, the ex-worker didn’t continue service with you in a continuous sense.  Often employees partially tie their value to the company on their compensation and pay increases. Be aware of this real possibility.

Was it a clean and amicable breakup from their first time around? Or were there issues that they didn’t disclose that caused them to leave? Time heals all wounds, but there is a chance that previous incidents of interpersonal or operational frictions are still active. There doesn’t have to be a “clearing the air” session before their first day back, but it is important to suss out any miscommunications or concerns that can be under the surface.

Opting for a boomerang hire could create missed opportunities at landing outstanding candidates that can take your company to the next level.  While this hypothetical prompt seems overly preemptive and possibly misguided, taking back an ex-employee without due-diligence of far-reaching applicant search is not in the company’s best interest.

An unwillingness to adapt and a sense of entitlement could escalate into a disharmonious situation quickly. It’s natural to settle in into old habits at a familiar workspace, though things may have changed since they’ve stepped foot back in the office. Picking up where they left off will have to be subverted, and a clear understanding of where they are in the chain of command is vital. Understandably, they may feel a sense of seniority or privilege.

Ultimately, your best bet is to hire the top candidate, and in this case, the boomerang worker has a leg up. If you are choosing between a few candidates, the advantages are clear on rehiring an ex-employee is a good idea. The drawbacks are there but, for the most part, are not deal-breakers. If executed properly, a reunion is a win-win for all involved.