It wasn’t too long ago that employees who left most organizations were summarily “dead” to the companies they left. That funny goodbye card that said “Everything Will Be Your Fault Next Week” was funny … with a twisting knife in the back. In my work with companies striving to be positive, intergenerational workplaces, I regularly encounter this anachronistic frame of mind – as in, at least once a week. It’s time for people – and the companies they work for – to understand that allowing, evening encouraging, former employees to boomerang back to you is a strategic advantage in every sector.
Not considering former employees for current open positions is so short sighted. Employees who boomerang back are a long-term strategic advantage to your business.
In a job environment where 1: the best people are in constant demand; and 2: Millennials, people born between 1980 and 2000, don’t expect to be in one role or company more than 3 or 4 years at a time. Millennials have had it drilled into their heads that they must keep themselves fresh and relevant, that staying at a place for a “long time” could be a red flag in the future, and/or that the only way to move “up” or “over” is to leave an organization for the position you want. Their parents, the media, and the job market in general, have reinforced these tenants over and over again since the Great Recession in 2008.
Just because someone wants to move their career along in a way your company cannot accommodate today, does not mean they should not be considered for a different opportunity they are well suited for in the future. Let them boomerang back if they are the right people for the position. To cut good candidates off just because they left once, is cutting off your nose to spite your face (and here I am again, using that Medieval History degree!).
If your former employees are dead to you, you’re working too hard to find new ones.
In my upcoming book, The Boomerang Principle, I delve into this notion and detail how to turn idea into a strategic advantage that drives productivity, performance and competitive edge for a company, and career satisfaction and progression for employees.
5 Positive Effects of Boomerang Employees:
Just a few of the positive benefits of having an employee boomerang back to you for the right job:
1. Negligible recruiting fee;
2. Low risk of bad employee fit;
3. Must shorter on-boarding, cutting time and cost of getting someone fully up-to-speed and operating on all cylinders by six-to-nine months;
4. The halo-effect for existing employees: if it’s good to come back, it might not be that good to leave; and
5. Reinforcing value of the company in the industry ecosystem.
While the tide is turning in this direction, as demonstrated by a 2016 Monster poll that demonstrated that 51% of respondents “would consider” returning to a former employer, companies that drag their feet getting to fully Boomerang Ready status are going to continue to work too hard to fill their positions.
Brendan Browne of LinkedIn, now part of his former employer Microsoft, shared his point of view in this Business Insider article last year. His current motto is come to the company, and “stay as long as you feel challenged and fulfilled. We will help you get to where you want to go, whether that’s here or somewhere else. Oh, and if you want to come back to LinkedIn for the right opportunity, the door is always open.”
Fred Bateman, CEO of Bateman Group, a PR firm based in San Francisco that competes with Double Forte, subscribes to the same philosophy. In a reply to a recent email about the book, Fred wrote, “I’m a big believer of never putting business success ahead of my personal relationships with people — and the company has embodied this core value of mine completely and fully. Because we maintain such tight ties with former employees — regardless of the terms of their departures — we not only benefit via the boomerang principal, but also the incalculable, but very real boost given a business by maintaining and cultivating such a huge amount of goodwill in the marketplace.” Bateman’s company blog recently featured the story of three boomerangs – staffers who had left for a variety of reasons, who returned, happy to be back at Bateman, for them a haven where they thrive in the super competitive PR agency industry.
At Double Forte, I never counter – people know not to ask. Instead, we work to make sure our people succeed here or somewhere else better suited to their aspirations. So far over a dozen people have boomeranged back as employees, and more as clients and referrals. Being open and willing to help people find their place in their careers pays off in so many ways. When our people leave, albeit it’s not that often, we celebrate their contributions, and as they leave that day I always say, “you can come back.”
The smile is payment enough.
You can download Chapter one of The Boomerang Principle here.
*edited to correct the name of Bateman Group