Should you rehire workers who’ve left?

In the past five years, 85 percent of HR professionals say they’ve received job applications from former employees, according to a recent survey from technology provider Kronos Incorporated and

A significant amount — 40 percent — have hired roughly half of the former employees who applied.

Workers who return to a previous employer, sometimes referred to as boomerang employees, can offer several advantages. Roughly a third of HR professionals and just over a third of managers singled out familiarity with the way a company works as boomerang employees’ biggest benefit. Others cited the reduced training needs former employees require, compared to new hires.

Whatever the reason, HR managers seem open to considering boomerang employees. In another recent survey. more than 98 percent said they’d rehire workers who had left on good terms.

Past employees, however, aren’t always quite as enthusiastic about becoming boomerang employees. Just 48 percent say they’d return to a previous employer, citing concerns about issues with management, company culture and their specific job responsibilities.

Companies may not be able to radically change a given role’s requirements; but they can improve their office environment and managerial relationships, which may help encourage previous workers to return — and increase overall staff retention rates.

1-15-16_blog.jpgA few additional tips to woo boomerang employees back into the fold:

  • Keep in touch with workers who have left: A number of companies now sponsor websites, e-newsletters and other initiatives to remain in contact with former employees. The effort may help turn them into boomerang employees; if not, they may still be able to connect your organization with potential clients and job candidates. (For tips on setting up a communication system, check out our post on employee alumni networks.)
  • Identify which former employees would make the best candidates: Clearly, rehiring workers who had a bad attitude, performed poorly or abruptly left isn’t a good move. They may require less initial instruction but could display similar performance issues — or rapidly depart again, which won’t advance any staff retention goals.

However, knowing why employees left, and when, can be helpful. Results from an academic study published in the Personnel Psychology journal found that boomerang employees often had different reasons for quitting and left earlier than other former employees. Tracking workers’ employment life cycle may provide insight into who would be more open to returning.

  • Launch a dedicated campaign: Determine any groups of potential boomerang employees you’d like to target — such as ones who left your company early in their career to obtain experience at a larger corporation — and design specific campaigns to reach them, utilizing social media, internal email lists or other appropriate outlets.

10-19-15_blog.jpgThe time invested in recruiting boomerang employees could provide a significant return: Former employees often remain at companies longer, are more productive in their first quarter and frequently cost less to hire than new workers, according to the Harvard Business Review.

Once boomerang employees are back, though, as with any worker, you’ll need to provide incentives for them to stay. Strengthen your value proposition with these staff retention strategies, recognition program tips and this list of 10 simple ways to make employees feel appreciated.