That makes boomerang employees a real stroke of luck

Farewell drink, speech, graduation certificate and then goodbye. This is how Anna Lerzy imagined the separation from her employer. In the past, a termination was actually usually associated with a goodbye forever. But it was to be different for her: “Two years later I was back on the spot,” says the designer in a t3n interview.

In technical jargon, she is referred to as a boomerang employee. She flew out and came back. Lerzy was looking forward to it, the boss welcomed her with open arms. odd? Not at all! More and more companies are relying on returnees when it comes to recruiting. Because they bring clear advantages.

Two years later I was back in the same place.

At the top is the fact that the often costly and time-consuming training usually fails. In addition, both parties know exactly what they can expect from each other: misunderstandings about performance, requirements and quality are usually impossible with a comeback.

This was also the finding of a research team that conducted a study among 30,000 employees and compared internal, external and returning appointments. The scientists have the results discussed in detail in the Harvard Business Review (HBR).. The only catch: Boomerangs may remain more willing to change.

“Employees who have left an organization are often willing to do so again,” explain the HBR researchers. However, the decisive factor is how the first termination came about and whether there were lasting changes as part of the second chance. In concrete terms, this can mean that just because a boomerang may have been successfully recruited again does not mean that the person actually stays for a long time.

For example, if the reason for the first change was a lack of transparency in decision-making processes and this has not changed, there is a high probability that the return will not last long. A higher salary doesn’t help either.

Boomerang employees can be deployed quickly

Boomerang workers: pros and cons of returnees. (Graphic: Shutterstock-Mojahata / HBR.org)

Companies like Cellular know that. Bianca Schröder is HR manager at the digital agency and plans boomerang employees into the HR strategy. One thing is essential: “You need a circle of colleagues that you’re happy to come back to,” she reveals in an interview with t3n. “We know that team cohesion and supportive cooperation are particularly valued here.”

In Hamburg, every tenth team member returned from another employer. “After a one-hour onboarding and IT setup, our latest boomerang was ready to go and productive again,” says Schröder. A real success for them.

Often they just wanted to get to know new companies.

Bianca Schröder doesn’t believe in the still widespread view that returnees have simply failed in their other job and should rather be seen as disloyal. “Often they just wanted to get to know other industries and new companies. Or a change suited a new phase of life,” says the HR manager. In her eyes, the will to return should be understood primarily as a compliment.

The grass wasn’t greener anywhere else. “You only find out how it is in the new job, how managers and the team act in everyday life, when you try it out. It’s brave to say: That’s not what I imagine!”

It was similar for Anna Jerzy. She didn’t go because she was frustrated with her employer. In fact, it was difficult for her to say goodbye because she left “a great manager and a great team”, as she says in the t3n interview. “I got an offer that would help me in my professional development,” she says, adding: “I couldn’t refuse.”

She learned a lot in the new company, but the tone in the team was definitely rougher. “It quickly became clear to me that the new job was just a stopover.” However, she never thought that she would return to her old company of all things. She would have understood if there was disappointment.

Boomerangs bring fresh experiences with them

It can be worth asking: “Would you like to come back?” (Photo: Shutterstock-Fizkes)

Cellular HR manager Bianca Schröder knows what can be much more decisive for a new hire in such a case: the new knowledge and skills that are in the luggage. “Boomerangs bring fresh experiences and, unlike other newcomers, have the before and after comparison.”

This means: “They can evaluate situations differently with their wealth of experience and act more reflectively. Or make suggestions as to how everything can be designed in a new, different, better way.” According to the HBR research report, however, this should not be confused with an increased willingness to perform. According to the study, this usually does not increase.

I think we all benefited in the end.

Schröder finds it dangerous if the return to the old job is confused with a comfort zone. “A person who decides to come back might think they don’t need to change anything because they already know everything. We counteract this by attaching importance to looking into different new areas of the company right from the start of the job.”

Of course, the employer must also question himself and see whether any company-related reasons for the dismissal at the time have changed, so that a boomerang is not in front of the same construction site as before.

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“Companies often don’t make enough effort to understand this questioning as an important part of the employee experience that lies after the point in time of the termination,” says Schröder. There is much more to do than just confirming the termination, calculating the remaining vacation time and planning the hardware delivery.

“Anyone who invests in comprehensive offboarding, deals with layoffs in an appropriately transparent manner and, on top of that, maintains a good network with alumni, will notice that it’s worth it.” Anna Jerzy has certainly adapted well to her old job. “I can apply my new know-how again in a friendly team. I think we all benefited in the end.”

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