Why We Rehire “Boomerangers.”

They’re back!  (Not sons and daughters of baby boomers living with their parents).  At MATRIX we have witnessed a different trend, of former employees returning to the fold. Is this a good thing for us, and for them? Conventional wisdom holds that hiring former employees is a bad idea. Some firms even have a hard and fast rule to never hire former employees. They perceive troublesome questions being asked. ‘Why did he leave in the first place? Won’t he leave again? And what message are we sending to the rest of the organization if we hire him back?’

According to Job Mob “Most companies understand that once an employee leaves, they have left. In effect, they have said that something at the work environment is so bad or so limiting (insert your own reason here), that they need to move on to another job.”

These are all valid points. Nevertheless, at MATRIX we have a different experience with more than a few of our employees who have left voluntarily. When they leave, we wish them luck, and offer to stay in touch, because well you never know… And when they are ready to return… so are we. We have made perhaps a dozen or so rehires (primarily with sales and recruiters but also with our operations folks.) And we have derived tremendous value from these rehires.

Is this an industry trend here or is this just something unique about MATRIX. I interviewed a dozen or so of our rehires, and the findings are interesting.

Why did they leave? A variety of perfectly understandable reasons were revealed: more money, desire to start their own companies, relocation or other family issues, career role dissatisfaction, feeling stale.

Why did they return? Mostly because they found out the grass was not greener on the other side of the fence; that you can’t always predict what it is like at someplace until you actually work there.

And they missed the culture we have at MATRIX. “Culture trumps process,” said one, who had previously thought the collaborative way we did things was cumbersome, but now realized, that team support was very valuable. “Integrity” was a word that came up often to describe our foundational value of always doing the right thing, even if it means sacrificing profit. “Seems like home and I missed my family,” said another. I know it sounds trite, but I don’t know how else to put it.

Another smart thing they all did was not burn  bridges when they left. They stayed friends and remained in contact with their former colleagues, including management, realizing it  is a lot easier to reach out for help when you have been talking to someone regularly.

And why did MATRIX welcome back these former employees? Mainly because they had proven themselves previously as excellent performers. We decided to not take their leaving personally, and understand people have different needs at different times.

According to Careerbuilder there are plenty of other reasons to rehire former employees, it boosts employee morale, simplifies training, and allows fresh perspectives gained from the outside to be introduced into the company.

And it is very expensive to recruit, vet, hire and train new employees from scratch. Our HR director estimates that hiring and ramp up can take six months and an investment cost of thousands of dollars for each new employee. By contrast, Boomerangers hit the ground running because they already know the culture, the job and most of the processes. They can be productive much more quickly.

Obviously not everyone is a great fit for this kind of career move. Potential emotional and organizational pitfalls do exist. Like anyone else, a rehired employee will succeed or fail depending on whether he or she’s right for a particular role. If their skills properly match the challenges, and if they are comfortable fittting back into the culture,  we have found it’s worth giving them a chance.

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