When Chris, an HR professional, was approached by a rival energy company to lead a new management project, he saw it as a career change he couldn’t turn down.
“My current company wasn’t ready to do this yet,” says Chris, who lives in Calgary, Canada. “It was a wonderful opportunity to experience something that would not have been possible otherwise.”
Change has been good in 2020. Chris, whose surname is being withheld for job security reasons, accepted the job and managed the project.
Over the next two years, he acquired profound skills and knowledge that helped him climb the career ladder quickly.
With an advanced degree and a higher salary, Chris was ready for a new challenge. He found her with his former employer.
Thus he became a “Boomerang employee” this year, returning to the same company as before, but in a more prominent position than he was after.
,[La empresa] I was approached to return to a bigger and bigger role because the experience I was able to gain in those two years was far from over,” he explains.
In the months following his return, Chris says he was able to work in the new role because of his institutional knowledge.
Rather than taking a step back, returning to her old workplace advances her career by allowing her to build on the relationships and networks she already has at her company, while also making use of experiences gained elsewhere.
“It’s been great: It’s like riding a bike, but bigger, cooler, and with more gadgets,” he says.
“At first I didn’t leave because I didn’t like my employer, but I quickly saw an opportunity to rise up and took it.”
While most people who leave their jobs close the door to that company forever, sometimes this is not the case.
Indeed, the number of people going back to their old places of work after the so-called big resignations is skyrocketing. Some companies are also promoting it.
And while returning to a previous job may be driven by regret, it is the only logical step forward in cases like Chris’s.
Decades ago, companies only thought about rehiring former employees, especially with the stigma against changing jobs.
“Some companies had formal policies that prohibited rehiring,” explains JR Keller, an associate professor of human resource studies at Cornell University in New York.
“Recruiting managers were concerned that bringing these employees back showed they were rewarding betrayal, which would encourage others to leave.”
Mass layoffs shook this mindset after the recession of the early 1980s, says Keller: It became more common to strategically move around the job market for career advancement.
“As careers in various organizations became the norm, even hiring managers were switching jobs. Hence passing on a great candidate just because they left earlier for a better opportunity , it seemed the opposite.”
This change in mindset meant that there has been a steady increase in re-hiring over the years. However, the major resignation caused a tidal wave.
In the US, an analysis of the employment histories of some 32 million LinkedIn members shows that these workers accounted for 4.3% of all hires last year, up from 2% in 2010.
The pace of this phenomenon is also increasing: the average American worker returning took 17.3 months in 2021, compared to 21.8 months in 2010.
According to LinkedIn, in the UK, 5% of all new employees in 2021 were for former employees.
That can be attributed to the recent higher labor market turnover growth, Keller says: Higher turnover across the board means more workers now want their old jobs back or are interested in returning to former employers. .
In a 2022 survey by recruitment firm Robert Half, 29% of UK business leaders reported an increase in the number of people applying to return to their old company.
“Someone may have left the organization and realized the grass was not greener, or was forced to resign for personal reasons stemming from the pandemic,” says Keller.
“That’s why they want to return to a role they’ve played well before, which they appreciate even more than the time they spend. And, with social media, it’s easier than ever to keep in touch with a former boss.” Is.”
Nicola Thomas, talent manager at UK-based digital marketing agency iCrossing, says she maintains an active registry of past employees as a recruitment source.
“Before the recruitment crisis, Boomerang could not be ruled out entirely, but recruiters now have to think of new ways to broaden their search for talent. The ideal candidate may also be a former employee. – You never know when someone might want to come back.” ,
In some cases, employees can cut their way to the top by receiving a promotion elsewhere and then coming back to the company with a better position and salary than if they had stayed.
Thomas says, “If a former employee leaves with a positive image, spends some time away, hones their skills and gains more experience elsewhere, then returning to a more senior role becomes an important consideration.” Is.”
One of those workers is Cameron Lyle of iCrossing. He left the company to head a department at a rival company, before returning to a more senior role.
“The work wasn’t what I expected: I quickly realized I didn’t have many opportunities to progress,” he explains.
“So, I contacted my former boss and asked if there was any opportunity to return. I knew new positions were opening and I was lucky to be back in the position a little higher since I left.”
In addition to career advancement, Lyle says coming back has brought him psychological benefits: He’s grateful to be back in a job he loves.
“I felt very energized. I went back to the same clients and accounts as before, but with a new perspective on how much I loved working at the company.”
From a recruitment perspective, hiring former employees in higher roles can make financial or logistical sense.
Keller’s 2021 research of more than 2,000 returning workers at a US health care organization showed that the number of returning workers far outnumbers workers, with most apparent gains within the first two years of a move. .
“Boomerangs can go,” says Thomas. “They’ve worked for you before, they understand your culture and values, and they probably have existing relationships in their business as well.”
John Arnold, assistant professor of management at the University of Missouri, says such work makes sense in roles that often require deep skills and specialized knowledge, such as in technology.
“If a company focuses only on hiring the good boomerangs who come back and perform well and quickly, that’s a huge advantage, especially in industries with long learning curves that need a lot of money.” It requires training and time.”
Although rehiring can be beneficial to both the employer and the returning employee, the transition is not always seamless.
For employees who have stayed with a company while their colleagues have left, returning a former employee to a more senior position or higher pay immediately can have a potential impact on morale.
“We don’t know how current employees will react to boomerangs coming into their team if they may have feelings of jealousy, denial of support or help,” says Keller.
Meanwhile, an employee who leaves to overcome organizational challenges may return to the same problems they initially left, Arnold says.
Their 2020 research indicated that returning employees often leave with the same issues.
“When these boomerangs moved a second time, they often provided the same reason for leaving as before,” he explains.
“Sometimes workers believe that things will get better at other times, but that’s not necessarily the case.”
Returning workers are also more likely to pay less attention: going back to a previous employer means there is more pressure to perform than new employees.
“Even though Boomerang employees tend to be better performers, they are more likely to be fired than outsiders—managers expect them to learn about the organization right away,” says Keller.
“While new employees may be given the benefit of the doubt, someone who doesn’t live up to expectations is more likely to be fired.”
There may also be a limited window to return to employment. While hiring managers may welcome employees after a few years, Thomas says there is also a cut-off point for a former employee to return.
“The longer it has been since the candidate left, the more likely they are to cling to old practices. Business may have moved on at that point, now that it is an organization they may no longer fit in with. “
Thomas says there has been a generational shift in organizations’ attitudes towards employee retention.
In turn, employers are leaving the door open to a one-day return for fast departing workers.
“People now want to experience different companies and climb the ladder as quickly as possible,” he says.
“In a world where many roles with specific skill sets are highly technical, there is a limit to the number of people you can consider – ignoring former employees can mean missing out on a huge opportunity.”
Keller says the potential awkwardness of withdrawal is fading for both employer and employee.
“As we see greater openness among companies to hiring boomerangs, returning to a former employer will also have less stigma from a worker’s perspective,” he says.
Over time, Keller believes this type of employee will become a more important element in the labor market and a major source of hiring.
“We now realize that everyone is looking for better opportunities,” he says. “If a company wants the best employees, and they are former employees, they should be open to it.”
How one leaves largely determines the success of the withdrawal. Both Chris and Lyle, who are back, stress the importance of leaving a company on good terms.
“For you to be successful, it’s important to burn any bridges and maintain a strong, positive relationship,” says Chris. “Coming back can certainly mean career advancement.”
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