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Retrieving Boomerang Employees

Rocker-poet Sting sang that if you love somebody, set them free.

That’s why Sting doesn’t work in Human Resources. In the world of HR, the lyrics would continue, “…but even if you set them free, according to Labor Department statistics and other studies, many will come baaaack.”

That’s why hiring managers don’t write songs. (The other reason they don’t write songs can be summed up in the Bruce Springsteen song parody claiming, “You can’t start a hire without a spark and a W-9.”)

The point I’m getting at is that there are a lot of boomerang employees out there – those who leave employers only to return sometime later – and I’m one of them. After a two-year hiatus of chasing entrepreneurial dreams, I’m fortunate to be back doing what I love at the company I love, SnagAJob.com.

A lot of companies are tossing around the boomerang in the metaphorical back yard by keeping back channel communication open with employees, even it’s just a friendly email here or a cup of coffee there. Look at Boulder, Colo.-based tea maker Celestial Seasonings, which in a New York Times piece on boomerangs boasted that 11 percent of its 250-person workforce comprises repeat employees.

The recession has brought to life a new version of the boomerang employee, those who were laid off but already have or may be brought back when things improve. According to a Labor Department study, 38 percent of employers reported that they planned on rehiring laid off employees. Now that’s some good news.

No matter what the circumstances of the return are, here are a few benefits of bringing back boomerang employees:

  • Saving money on recruitment and retention
  • Saving time on training and ramp-up
  • Knowing an employee will be a match for your culture

Oh, and who knows, maybe you can even get your boomerang employees to blog about the experience.

(Of course, your old employees often won’t even know you’re hiring unless they see your job postings.)

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Mike Ward is the managing editor for Snagajob. When he's not writing and editing content to support America's hourly workers and employers, he reviews movies, roots for losing sports teams and hangs out with his family and friends in the River City.

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