The key to surviving the Great Resignation? Boomerang employees

March 7, 2022

To say that 2021 was a turbulent year for employee turnover is putting it lightly. After a mass exodus from the workforce – the "Great Resignation," as it came to be known – businesses are still struggling to fill the gap that outgoing employees left behind.

It's true: nearly 4 million people on average quit their jobs each month in 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The manufacturing industry – a sector that's already facing a shortage of talent – is especially under dire circumstances. Without change, unfilled jobs will cost the American manufacturing industry over $1 trillion in 2030 alone.

What can be done to mitigate this trend? For starters, companies can leverage boomerang employees.

What are boomerang employees?

Simply put, boomerang employees are former members of your workforce that return to their jobs over time – the "boomerang" effect. Rehiring these former workers can yield a number of important benefits:

Faster onboarding
Depending on how long it's been since a boomerang employee left your company, you can expedite their return to work and kickstart productivity. By leveraging their familiarity with your operations, you can speed along the process and save plenty of time and resources that would otherwise be spent on retraining.

Lower cost of recruiting
Did you know that it's actually far more expensive to replace someone than to retain them? Gallup estimates that the average cost of replacing a lost employee is one-half to two times their salary. With this startling cost in mind, it's no wonder that boomerang employees are the better option. Not only are they less expensive to recruit, but they're much easier to contact, sign on and reintroduce.

Less risk
You never really know how well an employee will pan out over the course of their tenure at your company. A new hire may impress you throughout the recruitment process, but it may not always translate to the production floor. With boomerang employees, you essentially already have the full scouting report. You've seen what they can do, and you know how they'll perform. There's much less risk that they'll be a waste of your company's time or money.

Boosted morale
Reintroducing a former colleague to the workforce can also come to the delight of the friends and coworkers they left behind. The result? A tighter, close-knit team of professionals that already know how to work well together – a major boon to productivity.

How to leverage the boomerang effect

Successfully rehiring your boomerang employees is easier said than done. Here are a few tips that might help you make the most of the boomerang effect:

  • Recruit proactively: Keep a running list of potential boomerang employees and reach out to them on a regular basis to gauge their interest.
  • Consider circumstances: Look first at former employees you had to let go for pandemic reasons or left your company for a competitor – anybody whose life circumstances prompted their exit, but is still in good standing with the company.
  • Incentivize their return: Make promises you can keep. Whether it be a larger salary, more opportunities for development or a more flexible schedule, accommodating them in some way will benefit the business in the long run.

Keeping these steps in mind will help you effectively leverage your boomerang employees well into the future.