The boomerang effect | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 11, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:43 PM, August 23, 2017

The boomerang effect

Re-hiring former employees, commonly known as 'boomerang candidates', is a rising global trend, particularly in industries with extremely specialised workforces. Welcoming back former employees can be a smart move, and may be the answer to filling managerial positions during tightening of the skills shortage, but only under the right circumstances.

Re-hiring boomerang candidates has both realistic benefits as well as drawbacks for your organisation. We'll take a look at why you should consider hiring boomerang candidates and what you need to do to ensure a positive outcome.


1. Faster and cheaper recruitment

It is not necessary to go through an intermediary anymore—you can quickly verify employment history, and above all, the time needed for employee integration is greatly reduced for boomerang candidates.

2. New outlook

Time may not actually heal all wounds, but it may enable both the employer and employee to break free from a negative situation and learn from past mistakes. Even if the separation ended on a positive note, time away from each other gives the former employee a chance to pursue other interests and skills that may benefit not only them, but also their employer, once he or she returns.

3. Good understanding

Former employees already have a good understanding of your company, business operations, and most importantly, your culture. Hiring and training new employees can be time-consuming and costly. In case of boomerang candidates, they can pick up right where they left off—whether they're coming back to the same position or a new one. Therefore, a quick refresher training may be applied instead of a complete training overhaul.

4. Less risk

There is less of a risk that the re-hiring will not go well because you already have an idea of that person as an employee. You are acquainted with their personality and work ethic. You can expect a certain level of competency and productivity from them.

5. Competitive intelligence

They can provide competitive intelligence, new ideas, and a fresh perspective from their previous firms.

6. Valuable feedback

After a reasonable period of time, during which both employer and employee digest the separation, companies may ask the employees who had resigned the reason as to why they left. These employees can then speak freely about the reasons of their departure, and therefore, point out areas for improvement in the organisation


1. Unresolved issues

There may be unresolved issues that contributed to their leaving in the first place. Those issues could prove to be important, especially if you are considering a long-term working relationship with them. Therefore, before offering the job, you need to resolve such issues first.

2. Employee reaction

Existing employees may get jealous or even become resentful when boomerang employees return with significantly higher pay or job level than similar individuals who remained with the firm.

3. Changed boomerang employee

A long period away from your company could result in the boomerang employee to be negatively changed. In that case, you may need to thoroughly re-assess the applicant as well as your decision before any job offer is made. This is important because if the employee has changed, he or she may also become disenchanted right after they return to your company and no longer be a good fit.  


Companies that are actively re-hiring former star employees have put into place programmes to re-hire worthy candidates. Here are their best practices:

1. Keeping in touch

By maintaining relations with employees who have left a good impression on your company, you widen your pool of potential candidates. You may be sad to see your best employees go, but keeping them close can help boost your company's workforce in the future. Some companies add former workers' names to mailing lists and send them annual reports, employee newsletters, job listings, and other news. Also, consider inviting former workers to the office for department picnics or holiday parties.

2. Upbeat exit interview

Managers should candidly express their sadness and disappointment about seeing the worker leave and emphasise that the worker would be welcomed back at any time.

3. Exit questionnaire

Send the questionnaire to the departed employee two weeks after he or she starts the new job. Experts say this is when doubts begin to rise that the new job and employer may not be as promising as imagined.

4. Part-time work

If the worker is leaving for retirement or self-employment reasons, offer part-time work. Many veteran workers cutting back their schedules or starting their own businesses will welcome such arrangements.

Hiring boomerang candidates can be a great way to acquire top talent. But the decision to take back a former employee should be considered carefully. Regardless of the candidate, you need to make sure they are a good fit for your current culture and organisational needs and not those of the past.

Manjur Ahmed is the Head of HR & Admin at Grameen Telecom Trust. 

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