Why bring back a boomerang?
A boomerang hire is the term for a person who returns to work for a former employer - they “boomerang” back to their old place of work. As the idea of a “job for life” disappeared, companies focussed on how they could retain their best talent while managing out those they felt weren’t going any further within the business. However, this inevitably resulted in good talent leaving and being hired by competitors. It also saw heavy recruitment fees to constantly bring in new talent to the business when a fresh set of skills or experience was required. This is where the concept of the boomerang hire comes in.
Rather than losing a good employee for life when they leave your company, boomerang hires allow you to bring back talent with the extra experience and industry knowledge they’ve acquired from working outside of your organisation. Boomerang hires combine the fresh energy and skills of a new hire with the company knowledge of a seasoned employee. And in case you still weren’t sure of their value, research shows that Boomerang hires cut time to productivity and do better in annual reviews than stranger hires. They also have a 44% higher retention rate over three years than stranger hires.
Most importantly, boomerang hires save employers money. On average, boomerang hires can save an employer up to two thirds on traditional recruitment costs - this can be even higher if you’re accessing them through an alumni network.
Traditionally the employee lifecycle saw employees moving companies just a handful of times in their career. This has changed with Millennials now the most mobile job seekers ever. Research from Gallup shows that 21% of Millennials have changed job within the past year and that nearly half of them plan to leave their current company in the next twelve months.
Millennials are also the generation that is most open to new opportunities, with 60% claiming they’d be receptive to a new role - 15 percentage points higher than the average. When you add into this the fact that within the next few years Millennials will make up 75% of the job market, it becomes clear that businesses should expect their best talent to leave at some point. The opportunity comes in being able to tempt them back again in the future as a boomerang hire.
Boomerang hires and the gig economy
Boomerang hires have been boosted by the rise of the gig economy. As companies bring more and more employees in for “tours of duty”, having a seasoned workforce who can get up to speed quickly and already know the processes of the business makes sense.
At EnterpriseAlumni we see our customers using this approach with their alumni community. Our retail customers, for example, know they have seasons where they are busier and require more support. Traditionally this has resulted in them having to hire a new cohort of staff each year, spend money recruiting and training them, all the while hoping that they will be able to do the job to the standard expected. By utilising their alumni networks, however, they have created a pool of staff who already know the business and the roles. Rather than simply letting seasonal staff go when the busy period has finished, they add them to their alumni network and use them as their first port of call when they need to boost their workforce again.
How to onboard your boomerang hires
Just because a boomerang hire already knows your business doesn’t mean that you can ignore the onboarding process. To set your boomerang hire up for success you should onboard them as you would a stranger hire. While they might feel like they know the business backwards, there will be processes and people who have changed since they last worked there. Therefore it’s important to take the time to create a structured onboarding process.
A successful onboarding of a boomerang hire will include:
Updating any records you hold on them. Just as you would with a stranger hire, make sure their personal information is up to date. You might also want to take this opportunity to add them to your alumni network (if they’re not already a member).
Review changes in company policies. They will probably already have a good grasp of the company culture and practices but make sure they’re aware of any key changes which have taken place since they left. Often when a boomerang is rehired, employers assume they will know exactly how the business work. Then, when things have changed and the boomerang gets something wrong, both sides can be disappointed. Get in front of this from start by not assuming your boomerang knows everything.
Reintroduce them to the team. A boomerang might already have good contacts within the business but if they’re returning to a new team or a different department, they will still need the same introductions as a new hire.
Set clear KPIs. It can be easy to assume that a boomerang will slot back into the organisation instantly. While we do know that their time to productivity is quicker than a stranger hire, this doesn’t mean they won’t need some guidance on the key metrics for their new role. Get these agreed up front and watch your boomerang fly!
How to use your alumni network to find boomerang hires
An engaged alumni network can be a big driver of boomerang hires. To make sure you’re maximising the value of your alumni network you need to have a clear rehiring strategy. This should include:
Regular communication. The more connected your alumni feel to the business, they more likely they are to return to it as a boomerang hire. If you only contact them when you’re looking to hire, you won’t see the best response rate. Instead, create a regular communication plan. Keep them updated on the business’s success, offer them perks and promotions, and given them opportunities to engage with their former colleagues. All of this will remind your alumni of the benefits of working for you and increase your chances of bringing them back.
Personalize job opportunities. Rather than alerting your alumni network to every job you have going, make sure the platform you’re using allows you to segment and search the data. This will allow you to match the right job to the right person. A generic jobs email won’t see a strong response. An email to a specific person, advertising a job that exactly meets their experience will do much better.
Ask for referrals. An alumni network can provide you with both boomerang hires and referrals. Your alumni might not be right for the job you’re recruiting into, but they might know someone who is. It’s not a direct “boomerang hire” but nor is it a total stranger hire. Your alumni know the culture of your business better than a recruitment consultant and are likely to recommend people who will fit.
Your alumni network is an untapped source of boomerang hires. Read more about how with the right platform you can make the most of this resource and hire back your best talent now.