Jobs and the Future of Work

What are boomerang employees?

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Companies need to do a better job of making ex-employees feel more welcome. Image: Chris Liverani/Unsplash

Nicole Penn
President, EGC Group
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Future of Work

  • Being unable to balance the demands of work and home, especially for working parents, is a major reason why people quit their jobs, says the president of ECG Group.
  • 60% of the advertising agency's staff are women, most are mothers and many have boomeranged back to the company, she adds.
  • Boomerang employees are staff who leave their jobs, but choose to return at a later point when the stress passes or priorities shift.
  • To encourage boomerang employees back into the fold, companies need to create a work culture employees will want to return to.
  • Other tips include moving exit interviews further out and creating an alumni network.

Our agency has tried many things to support and nurture working parents, but our most successful practice has been leveraging boomerang employees. As a mom and the president of EGC Group, an advertising agency, I know firsthand the demands of work and home. While there are many reasons an employee quits their job, it’s often due to the challenging quest of balancing those demands better. But, once that season of stress passes or priorities shift, many employees are inclined to return to the company they once said goodbye to.

We’ve tried to create an environment that people want to return to—one of flexibility and balance in work and life. 60% of the agency is women, most of whom are mothers and many who have boomeranged back to us. Here are five tips to encourage boomerang employees to come back when the time is right:

1. Move exit interviews to 60 days out

  • To be supportive of potential boomerangs, companies should rethink the exit interview.
  • Quite often, it’s a formality done days before the employee leaves and is not an honest discussion.
  • Consider a 60-day touch base after the employee has left. They’ll have a different perspective from their new position, and it’s a great way to get broader feedback.

2. Create an alumni network

  • Create an alumni network with its own communication strategy for frequent connection.
  • Communicating via email may have historically been the preferred route, but today’s companies are leveraging Slack channels or LinkedIn groups to stay in touch with current employees.
  • Microsoft’s alumni network has over 48,000 members in 54 countries and charges dues for access to the resources.

3. Invite them to company events

  • When hosting company events, consider extending the invite to ex-employees.
  • Many organizations also include family members.

4. Offer outplacement to support their landing

  • Offering outplacement services to employees who have been let go can show the employee you care and go a long way in creating good relationships with ex-employees.
  • Companies should offer this benefit to employees that left the company in good standing and would welcome back in the future.

5. Reonboard them fully when they return

  • For new Boomerangs coming back into the organization, we suggest making sure they receive the same/enhanced onboarding experience as new employees, as the likelihood in the company has likely changed.
  • Reonboarding employees can create a cohesive view of what’s changed, what hasn’t, and where the company should be focusing and, subsequently their role.
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