Employee turnover can be a huge drain on your company’s bottom line, costing your business time, productivity and money. But even with strong recruitment and retention programs in place, some turnover is inevitable. In December 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2.7 million workers voluntarily left their jobs, and this number is expected to increase as more millennials utilize job-hopping as a strategy to advance their careers.
Even well-run Fortune 500 companies can fall victim to high turnover rates; Google, Amazon and AFLAC all have an average new-hire tenure of just over a year, according to 2013 Payscale report.
So, how should you, as founder, feel about this trend? Sure, when a well-respected employee of yours leaves for greener pastures, you may find it difficult to let that person go. But that's what's happening these days. With today's workers changing jobs and career paths more frequently than in the past, someone's departure seems less a betrayal and more a smart choice to gain new experience.
But what if that employee later wants to return?
The number of these "boomerang employees" -- the nickname given to employees who leave but ultimately return – is on the rise, according to the New York Times. Several factors are converging to increase the use of boomerang employees. One is that social media sites, like LinkedIn, make it easier for company leaders to stay in touch with former employees, whether they’re in the office next door or halfway across the country.
Another is that bringing back a former employee who has gained a valuable new skill or expanded his or her network can be beneficial for your company, too.
Would you rehire a former employee? Assuming you two parted on good terms, here’s why you should consider doing just that:
1. Save money and time, with faster onboarding.
Former employees may need only a quick briefing on workplace changes to get up to speed and hit the ground running. Even if some training is required, onboarding a former employee is still less expensive and time consuming when compared with onboarding a brand new employee.
2. Streamline re-entry into workplace culture.
Learning the ins and outs of workplace culture can oftentimes prove to be a new hire's biggest stumbling block. Even if this person has the right skills and background for the job, a lack of fit with workplace culture can spell long-term disaster. With a re-hire, your returning employee already knows what to expect from your organization, and neither of you has to worry about culture clash.
3. Add new skills to your company.
Returning employees may bring everything from new industry skills to expanded networks. LeBron James is the poster child for boomerang employees who return with new skills. After amassing championship rings with the Miami Heat, James returned to Cleveland with a new understanding of what it took to come together as a team to win a championship.
4. Boost office morale.
Rehiring a former employee can be a big boost to office morale, especially if the employee was well liked and respected by the office before his or her departure. Keep in mind, however, that while most employees may be happy to have an old colleague return, the re-hire may now be managing people with whom he or she once worked on the same level. And this rise in status may ruffle a few feathers.
You don’t want to lose other employees over your re-hires return! Avoid potential office politics clashes by being sure all your employees are comfortable and confident in their own long-term growth potential with your company.
5. Strengthen company loyalty.
Did you know that according to Gallup, an estimated 22 million employees are “actively disengaged” with their current positions, resulting in $350 billion dollars per year in lost productivity, including absenteeism? The culprit is low morale and a lack of company loyalty. Re-hiring former employees can give everyone a big boost of company loyalty, especially if you are able to snag, or rather re-snag, a popular “star” employee.
6. Bypass expensive job recruitment.
In today’s competitive marketplace, recruiting highly qualified hires can be an expensive and time-consuming endeavor. Last year, 2014, ended with five million job openings--– the highest number since 2001, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In such a competitive marketplace, most businesses have to invest serious cash into professional recruiters. When you bring back a former employee, though, you can bypass this costly search process.
Not all former employees are good re-hire material, especially if they were fired, or departed under unfortunate circumstances. But for some employees -- especially those who left to pursue other career goals, like a business or graduate degree, or due to a change in family circumstances (like a spouse being relocated) -- re-hiring makes sense for everyone involved.
When it comes time to fill a new position, then don’t rule out the possibility that your next hire may already have worked for you!