More and more companies are bringing back workers who left on good terms.
Holding onto good employees can be difficult in today’s exceptionally competitive construction labor market, but all hope is not lost if that star worker accepts a role elsewhere.
Recently the industry has seen an increase in the hiring of boomerang employees, those who leave a job only to return some time later, as companies no longer view rehiring a former employee as taboo. In fact, 76 percent of managers said they’re more accepting of hiring former staffers than they were previously were, and employees themselves are less anxious about returning to their former offices, according to 2017 study by Kronos and Workplace Trends.
As the construction unemployment rate hovers near record lows1, companies are finding creative ways to recruit top talent, including looking at workers who left a strong impression and departed on good terms. Here are three benefits to hiring boomerang employees, and some negatives to keep in mind.
You’re hiring a known quantity
If someone worked for you before and comes back, you have a good idea of what to expect, said Dan Ryan, a member of the Society of Human Resource and Management talent expertise panel. “You know what’s going to work, an idea of what they do well and what some of their quirks might be,” Ryan added.
That helps you gauge whether the person will be a cultural fit within the company as it stands today. Additionally, rehiring a former employee could boost morale among the staff. “It’s almost like the biblical story about the prodigal son,” said Ryan, who is also president and CEO of recruiting company Ryan Search and Consulting. “If you have someone who was well thought of and they come back, there can be an emotional positive reaction.”
They’ve acquired more knowledge
If boomerang employees leave to fill a different role, or for a job that advances their skill set, they are going to return with new expertise, Ryan said. “A diversity of thought can be advantageous,” he added. “If someone leaves and comes back, you’re hoping they’re doing something better and more complex than before.” Employees who can demonstrate an ability to blend what they knew beforehand with what they learned at the new job can bring added value.
Be sure to weigh that advantage when deciding between a boomerang employee and a new hire, advised Rob Salome, director of strategy and leadership development at the Nashville offices of the management consulting firm Solutions 21. “If they don’t add that value, then there’s no reason to bring them back,” Salome said. He wrote about hiring boomerang employees last year and noted that there are both benefits and negatives.
They can reduce the costs of training
Bringing back a former employee can also save your company money in the onboarding and training process, depending on how long they’ve been away. “You’ll have to spend some money bringing them back on board,” Salome said, “but they are going to be able to come up to speed in six months instead of a year.”
Ryan noted that a boomerang likely knows the firm’s cultural norms, which can help them acclimate and move out of the training period faster.
On the negative side, rehiring former employees could turn off the people who stuck around. Some staffers might feel bitter if they stayed at the firm and haven’t been rewarded for their efforts and loyalty. To guard against this, make sure all advancement opportunities within the firm are clearly advertised, Ryan advised.
Additionally, ensure the firm treats everyone fairly and has an established performance management system. That way, said Ryan, the staff receives honest and regular feedback on their performance so they can grow their skills and achieve what the boomerang employee accomplished by going elsewhere.
Emily Canal is a staff writer at Inc. Magazine and has previously written for The New York Times, Boston Globe and Forbes.