Should You Ever Hire a Boomerang Employee?

16 September 2016 -


Michael Bloomberg famously would never rehire anyone once they'd left Bloomberg, but why? New research from Robert Half UK has found that more British companies are open to rehiring departed staff

Jermaine Haughton

In the UK, employer reluctance to rehire former staff is seemingly on the wane, with 83% of HR executives reporting they are more accepting of boomerang employees than they were three years ago, according to the survey from recruiters Robert Half UK.

In fact, just 7% of UK HR directors are opposed to rehiring former employees.

The trend is backed by more than one third (36%) of HR directors reporting that they previously rehired an old employee successfully. This is compared to just 25% of respondents who said they have previously employed a boomerang employee but wouldn’t do it again.

The decision to re-employ a previous staff member is far from a one-size-fits-all scenario, and hiring managers often have to consider both the individual’s contribution to the company, their motivation and the way in which they originally departed the organisation.

The individual may have been laid off due to a company’s financial situation, but not because they weren’t a valued employee.

The employee may have been let go prematurely, excelled at a rival and forced the employer to produce a u-turn on their mistake, as in the case of French footballer Paul Pogba, who recently became the world’s most valuable player returning to Manchester United Football Club for £89million.

The size of the respective employer also influences the willingness to rehire former workers. With almost half (49%) of HR executives working for large companies in the UK reporting that they have successfully rehired former employees, only 4% of HR chiefs at big firms saying they wouldn’t consider hiring a boomerang employee compared to 12% of those in small enterprises.

This would suggest the greater resources and bigger workforce place larger firms in a better position to take a gamble on boomerang staff.


Familiarity with your organisation: With an in-depth understanding of the people, policies, technology and clients used within your workplace, hiring an old employee can actually save bosses time and money.

Research shows that the price of hiring a new staff member can total up to £30,000, due to the cost of waiting for new starters to gets up to speed and recruitment and training fees.

The Robert Half UK report found that more than a third (36%) of HR directors highlighted the benefits of reduced on-boarding costs as a factor influencing their decision to employ a boomeranger.

New Perspective: Whether the individual departed a year ago or a decade ago, the employee may have new experiences and ideas to offer the company.

Combined with their grounded understanding of your firm, these new ideas and skills can help bolster your team’s performance, by contributing to projects and sharing their new found knowledge with colleagues.

Boost Office Morale: Co-workers of the former employee will also make note of their return, boosting retention throughout the company as employees get the sense that the company was worth the return.

It can bring people back together who formerly worked well as a team. Four-fifths of respondents to the Robert Half UK study claimed that their fit into the corporate culture is a factor in rehiring.


Resentment: Managers are advised to take into consideration the circumstances of how the employee left the company and assess whether there maybe any lingering after effects upon the staff member’s return.

Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, senior adviser at global executive search firm Egon Zehnder International, said: “If things ended on a sour note, rehiring former employees can be complicated — and may not work out well in the long run.

“Even if an employer did everything they could to ease the stress of the situation, an employee may harbor resentment and bitter feelings, and those feelings may have grown stronger since they left the organisation.”

Rile Current Staff: While managers may hope staff will relish working once again with an old colleague, there may be at least one person who may not be so keen.

Some employees may feel disgruntled and jealous that a boomeranger has been able to return to the company in a more senior position or higher wage. This can lead to jealousy and can result in falling out with former friends or a tense environment in the office or on your team.

Higher Salary & Benefits: Many employers’ thinking of rehiring a former colleague will find that the employee will request greater compensation than previous.

In a LinkedIn survey, 74% of surveyed employees who switched jobs said they got a higher salary in their new position. Even if an employee is taking on the same job position as they had previously, the experience, skills and knowledge they may have gained at other organisations, as well as changes in lifestyle (such as having a young family), may increase the worker’s salary demands.

Phil Sheridan, senior managing director of Robert Half UK, commented: “Rehiring former employees back into the organisation can help to offset the current challenges companies face in the war for talent. This growing acceptance of boomerang employees emphasises the increasing fluidity of the job market.

“Many firms see value and potential cost savings in allowing employees to expand their experience and skills set outside their organisation, leaving the door open for them to return at a later date.

“In smaller enterprises especially, there sometimes isn’t the opportunity or scope for employees to expand their skills set. In these instances employers may benefit from allowing employees to leave and gain the experience they need for their career, with the added value of additional training, while keeping the door open for ‘alumni’ employees should a suitable role become available.”

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