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From Boomers to Boomerang Employees

Written by

Laura Belyea

Who would you rather hire: someone who has proven work ethic, exceptional performance, knows your company culture, would require little training and can hit the ground running? Or someone who looks great on paper, impressive (cherry-picked) references, seemed like a good fit during the Skype interview, and (fingers crossed) would work well with the rest of your team?

You most likely chose option A. And that’s without considering that you’d save tens of thousands of dollars in recruiting costs…because option A is a former employee, or “boomerang employee.”

With 3.6 million baby boomers set to retire next year, myriad key management positions will be up for grabs. Competition for talent is fierce, partially because access to bigger and better opportunities is widely available at the click of a button. Millennials, always on the prowl,  are predicted to hold 12-15 jobs in their lifetimes. Thus, the conversation is shifting from employee retention to recruitment: filling the inevitable (and proverbial) big shoes.

“We will see the boomerang employee trend continue in the future as more employees adopt a ‘free agent’ mentality and more organizations create a stronger alumni ecosystem,” says Dan Schawbel, founder,, and New York Times Bestselling Author of “Promote Yourself”

A recent survey commissioned by The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated and found that, while only 15% of employees were boomerangs, nearly 40% said they would consider going back to a previous employer. This figure was highest for Millennials (46%), as compared to 33% of Gen Xers and 29% of Baby Boomers. Companies are coming around as well: while nearly half of HR professionals surveyed said their organizations used to be opposed to boomerangs, 76% said they are more willing today than in the past. Nearly two-thirds of managers agreed.

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But what if the last email address you had for Susan was the one from your company, and the last time you spoke to Mike was at the water cooler? Policies and procedures are one thing, but without an active alumni network, reengaging your former best employees is tough. Startlingly, 80 percent of employees say former employers do not have a strategy in place to encourage them to return, and nearly half of managers claim there are no alumni communications. While 98% of Fortune 500s have LinkedIn alumni groups, the vast majority of these are independently run, unaffiliated with the company of origin.

“Boomerangs are uniquely valuable because they offer an outsider perspective combined with an insider’s knowledge of company process and culture,” says LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman. “An ex-employee will be more interested in returning if the company stayed in touch and maintained a rela­tionship in the interim.”

Download our infographic below to find out how boomerangs cut your cost and time to hire! 

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