I was reading an article earlier about Salesforce.
CEO Marc Benioff just made an announcement that they are looking to hire again after laying off 10% of their workforce earlier this year.
He made a statement that, "We know we have to hire thousands of people."
In particular, the organization seems to be putting a particular focus on employees who have left the company (both from layoffs and by personal choice), encouraging them to return.
Salesforce has even gone so far as to consider rehiring employees as a measure of success and to host an "alumni event for people who are employed in other companies to say - it's okay, come back."
It is intriguing to me to see this as a practice.
I have worked with organizations that have rehired "Boomerang" employees in the past.
Sometimes it has worked well, and other times it has gone horribly wrong.
Let's take a look at the benefits and potential challenges of this practice to see if Boomerang employees are good for organizations.
They Know The Systems
One of the greatest benefits of Boomerang employees is that they may already know how things work in the company.
This leads to decreased training costs and faster initiation.
In large companies where work needs to get done quickly, this can be a great benefit.
As onboarding can be one of the costliest processes and longest processes, rehiring a Boomerang employee can aid in reducing these.
Can Bring Outside Knowledge
Sometimes, other companies have amazing ideas.
It could be technologies or strategies in how they do business.
Your organization may not have gotten people who understand these ideas, or simply haven't heard of other companies' strategies.
A benefit that a Boomerang employee could potentially bring is new knowledge from outside companies.
Many organizations get crushed in, "That's how we've always done it."
Fresh ideas and perspectives can help alleviate that challenge.
Get Back Talent That "Thought" There Were Green Pastures
We are all human, and sometimes we make mistakes.
One of the largest mistakes people make with companies is thinking that a little bit higher of a paycheck will make a huge difference.
I have watched employees leave organizations for as little as a $0.05 increase in their hourly rate, only to discover that amounts to almost nothing, especially after taxes.
There are also many occurrences where one quick, bad confrontation (often caused by stress) leads to individuals leaving.
However, they leave to an environment where that same kind of confrontation is actually a norm (Toxic workplaces are all over the place in today's world).
Employees sometimes realize that the one bad moment that led to them leaving was not a common occurrence in their previous place, and are happy to go back to a workplace that, although not perfect, is not consistently Toxic.
All organizations of course should constantly work to become less Toxic, but people sometimes do make rash decisions in the heat of the moment that they truly regret.
This is tied into the "Knowing The Systems" benefit, but this is more HR-specific.
Many HR departments, especially right now, are struggling to hire candidates, period (especially if they are requiring a return-to-office).
This, combined with most processing taking a lot of time, leads to overall slow hiring.
However, with Boomerang employees, a lot of the traditional processing has already been done.
This can make it significantly easier to process and rehire employees for organizations.
Everyone enjoys feeling wanted.
It can hurt employees and organizations when employees get let go, especially if they were good employees who were let go due to bad circumstances (as we've seen with the economy).
When an organization is able to turn around and say, "Hey, things got better here, and we remember you, value you, and want you back", it can lead to a lot of Gratitude from that employee.
Gratitude can help create a better work environment and help drive productivity up.
When we are let go for any reason, it can hurt tremendously.
If a company that lets you go tells you that you can come back, though some may have Gratitude, others may bring back Fear.
Sure, they may return, but they may only return out of a need rather than a desire.
As they continue to do work, they may be wondering the entire time if they will simply be let go again.
They wonder if they are expendable.
On the other hand, if an employee chooses to leave and returns, they may wonder if others resent them for leaving due to increased workloads or hurt feelings.
This Fear can lead to employees being hesitant, and this can lead to losses in productivity and challenges with developing a positive culture.
Bringing Back Problems
Sadly, we are in a business environment where not every "problem" employee is reported to HR.
Sometimes problems are swept under the rug, other times fear is involved in failing to report problems.
In mass layoffs, you often will get rid of many "problem" employees.
However, if they were not reported for any of their misconduct, it is just as easy to bring the problems back without knowing.
I have also seen many organizations rehire employees they knew were problematic from a cultural perspective due to a "need" and "they can do the work".
However, by doing that they sacrificed culture and completely killed any changes they hoped for.
They may have "solved" an immediate problem but at the cost of the long-term health of the organization.
Bringing Back Resentment
It is rarer to see this admittedly, but there are individuals out there who are very vindictive.
It is possible, and I have seen this, where an employee is brought back and becomes Actively Disengaged.
This means that they are actively working against the needs and goals of the company.
I have sadly seen this lead to entire teams and groups quickly working against the changes an organization wanted to accomplish.
All because of the resentment held by a Boomerang employee.
Of course, you can let that employee go again, but the damage is done at that point because it has gone beyond the Boomerang employee.
Current Employee Resentment
Sometimes, the problem isn't with the Boomerang employees themselves, but with the employees who remained behind.
Some employees resent when others leave, and sometimes resent them significantly more for returning.
This resentment can then be felt by the returning employee.
It can create cliques, silos, and inter-team competition.
In any of these cases, it causes internal strife for organizations.
With this too is that employees who remained at a company may feel that any higher-level positions that suddenly open up should go to them first.
If a Boomerang employee is chosen over one of the remaining employees, it could cause resentment there as well.
One of the large problems many organizations are facing currently is with Diversity in their organizations.
Some companies are making efforts to change this of course, however, the dangers come from what we are not paying attention to.
If an organization has a diversity problem, and employees leave, there may be openings to make real changes to expand diversity.
However, if we quickly rehire Boomerang employees, unintentionally we may simply end up reinstating our Diversity problems without realizing it.
It is a potential and unintentional second-order consequence.
Revolving Door Of Talent
Sometimes, people see a system and they try to use it to their advantage.
If an employee knows they have a talent that is desired and not extremely common, they may try to use Boomerang policies to their advantage.
They may attempt to start a "bidding" war essentially between different organizations - seeing who will pay more and offer better benefits or offer movement up in hierarchies.
Some Boomerang employees will use these types of policies to try to "fast-track" their careers, and sometimes it comes to the detriment of the organizations they use to do this.
Difficulty Adapting To New Company Changes
Another challenge that sometimes occurs is when a company is working on changing things (I see this, especially with technology) and hires a Boomerang employee.
The Boomerang employee is "expecting" what they were used to before.
However, what they arrive at is something completely new.
They may not be ready for the changes, and they may not like the changes.
This can make changes that a company wants to occur much slower as they try to bring Boomerang employees "up to speed" with the changes.
These same Boomerang employees may end up dragging their feet on these new things which can cause many different types of issues for leaders.
So, should organizations use Boomerang Employees?
The answer is...
I know many people hate that answer, but it's the truth.
There are a number of important things to consider in your organization.
How is the workplace culture currently?
Is it currently a Toxic workplace?
How was the culture when that employee left?
Have you been making efforts to dramatically improve the workplace since you last employed these individuals?
How are your current Leaders doing?
How are your HR records?
Are you sure that these Boomerang employees will be good fits?
How will rehiring these employees feel to those who have remained?
How dire is the need to hire and onboard quickly?
Are you willing to potentially bring problems back, maybe some of which you didn't know existed?
What did these Boomerang employees go to after they left, and could that help your organization?
Did these employees leave on good terms, or otherwise?
All of these questions, and more, are extremely important to consider before hiring anyone back.
I have watched most leaders lean too strongly one way or the other without looking deeply enough.
I have seen employees not bring back amazing employees because they were too focused only on the potential bad that could arrive.
I have also seen employees return to organizations for all of the wrong reasons, only to cause extreme issues that could have EASILY been avoided.
There is no perfect answer to this question, but it is important to think of all angles before deciding.
About the Creator
Creator of the 4X Award-Winning Category "Legendary Leadership" | Faith, Family, Freedom, Future | The Legendary Leadership Coach, Speaker, Writer & Podcast Host | For More of Cody Dakota's Work Go To: https://www.TheLeadership.Guide
Very well written. Keep up the good work!
Compelling and original writing
Creative use of language & vocab