Workforce Trend: The Boomerang Employee


What do LeBron James and Howard Schultz have in common? They are both “boomerangs.”

Basketball icon James rejoined the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014. Howard Schultz, CEO and President of Starbucks actually left the organization twice: the first time was in the 1980’s for a brief period to start his own coffeehouse but he returned in 1987 to purchase Starbucks. Schultz left a second time in 2000 due to exhaustion.  He returned eight years later because he believed the company had drifted from its core values and he was concerned about its declining performance.

What is a “boomerang” employee?  A boomerang employee is an employee that leaves a company (on good terms) only to return to that same company.  Some reasons for returning are cited, but not limited to compensation, and family.  According to Forbes (2015) a 2015 study conducted by The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated and WorkplaceTrends.com,  “48% of companies had a policy against hiring boomerang employees in the past, but now 76% say they are more accepting of hiring them.”  (para. 3).  This rehiring can be a plus for the organization, but a negative for those either trying to move up within the organization and/or potential outside candidates.  By hiring a boomerang employee, companies are less likely have to retrain. Furthermore, the returning employee already knows the company culture.  The disadvantage is that other internal employees with less experience will have to compete with a boomerang employee and those on the outside have to compete with both categories.

We see from these statistics that organizations are willing to rehire former employees. Hiring a boomerang can be a win-win for the employer and employee. For the employer, this is a person that the organization knows. Furthermore for the employer, a boomerang can increase engagement, decrease disengagement, and increase morale. This person has returned to work: returned back to a familiar environment, back to old friends: everyone is in a happy place! The employee knows the culture, will most likely need less basic training, and can add value to HR processes as well. Additionally, since a boomerang is a near insider, it may cost the organization less financially to bring them back. Some companies re-hire boomerangs that have recently retired. If a high-level person leaves and the organization has struggled for a replacement, that same employee can be asked to return while the organization is in this transitional phase. In some government entities, a retired employee has a one month waiting period before they can return to work for the same employer—even if it is in another department.

We believe that hiring “boomerangs” is a workforce trend that will increase as HR and Talent Managers deal with the challenge of hiring qualified employees.

Guest blogger. (2016 April 28). Boomerang Employees: Who They Are And Why They Are On The Rise. Retrieved from http://www.yoh.com/blog/boomerang-employees-who-are-they-and-why-they-are-on-the-rise

Shawbel, D. Forbes/Entrepreneurs. (2015 November 1). 10 Workplace Trends You’ll See in 2016. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/danschawbel/2015/11/01/10-workplace-trends-for-2016/#405c04fc222c

Starbucks (n.d.) Our Mission Our Values. Retrieved http://www.starbucks.com/about-us/company-information/mission-statement

Joan C. Smith is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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