Boomerang Employees: The Pros and Cons

Boomerang Employees_A boomerang is a throwing tool, constructed as a flat aerofoil, that is designed to spin about an axis perpendicular to the direction of its flight and to return to the thrower

Boomerang employees keep coming around.  In fact, some HR professionals will not understand the analogy.  As a definition, a boomerang employees are those employees who left the company in a positive way and have been asked to return.

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While they offer a real opportunity to fill a company’s job vacancies, are they really worth the effort?  Managers say yes while employees say no.

Boomerang Employees

In fact, nine in 10 senior managers report they are open to bringing on a Boomerang employee according to an Accountemps survey.  They same survey reported only 53% of employees say they would apply for a position with a former employer.


According to the American Society of Employers, reasons include:

not wanting to return to past employers included dissatisfaction with management (22%), poor fit with organizational culture (17%), unfulfilling job duties (13%) and bridges burned by the company (11%).


Despite the data, there are benefits to hiring these types of employees.

Often times, these employees need less training.  That’s because they are already familiar with the company and its culture, systems, and product among other things.  These employees, in most instances, have already proven their value to the company.  And finally, these boomerang employees often bring with them new skills and experience gained while working with other companies.

But not everyone is in agreement.  There are some reasons boomerang employees are not preferred.  Some examples include:

  • They were not then and are not the best fit for the company
  • They were not a valuable employee
  • They seem to bounce from company to company

Hiring Boomerang Employees 

As previously mentioned, there are a fair share of reasons to bring on a candidate who is considered a boomerang employee.  One not discussed is the fact boomerang employees are seen as an easy option to fill gaps. 

So what do you do before hiring a boomerang employee?  Robert Half has a list of ways to get started.

  1. Talk to the employee and their former employer. See where those employees are in their professional careers.  See if their needs are being met.  With the former employer, try to get a sense of why the professional relationship did not work out.
  2. Conduct the formal interview and onboarding. Treat them as new candidates.  If they come accept the job, put them through a formal onboarding process.  They need to be introduced to changes within the company and current projects.
  3. Potential Training. While the boomerang employee gained new skills in the interim, he or she may need new training to ensure performance.
  4. Inform current workers about the employee’s return. It’s always a toss up in how current employees will react to the return of a former employee.  Make sure to listen to what they have to say and be prepared to explain how this rehiring of an employee is a positive move for the company, not a detrimental one.

Critical Role

Boomerang employees play a critical role in the talent acquisition strategy.  Quite honestly, it happens before they even become a boomerang employee.  The value is in the data they offer during the exit interview. During this time, it’s critical to understand why they are choosing to leave the company.  It’s also important to understand what they found positive about their experience in addition to the negative attributes.  This creates an opportunity for HR to understand potential issues that may or may not have previously been known, address those issues, and make changes accordingly.  Finally, it’s important the exit interview end on a positive note.


Simply, as an HR professional, one never knows when he or she will run into these former workers again either with an opportunity to rehire or with the potential to take a new job opportunity of their own.

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Image courtesy:  Stock Photo Secrets


Mason Stevenson
HR Exchange Network