Are you ready to catch the boomerang?

Boomerang rehires are on the rise as the skills shortage starts to bite.

Diane van Zyl, senior people manager at Altron Karabina says Boomerang rehires – where talent leaves a company and then rejoins at a later stage – are becoming a trend in South Africa.

“This can be as soon as a few weeks or months or after a year or more. Managed correctly, boomerang rehires offer people managers and companies a unique opportunity to cope with the skills tsunami and crippling skills shortage in the country while enjoying the benefits of lower operational costs,” she explains.

According to Diane, a study by Workplace Trends called The Corporate Culture and Boomerang Employee Study found that 15 percent of employees have “boomeranged” back to a former employer, 76 percent of HR professionals said they were more open to the idea than before, 56 percent of HR professionals and 51 percent of managers said they give high priority to boomerang job applicants and around a third of HR professionals and managers agree that being familiar with the company culture and the need for less training and onboarding was among the concept’s biggest benefits.

“The next, obvious, question is: “Why?” Why do these staff leave, only to return? There is no single answer to this question but there certainly are a few trends. First, we must delineate between employees that leave on bad terms – for whatever reason – and those that depart on good terms, leaving the company poorer for their exit,” Diane says.

Those who leave a company on good terms, Diane says, often cite wanting to grow or spread their wings. “Sometimes it may be more money, but most often it is to do with career advancement, broadening their horizons and seeing what the grass on the other side looks and feels like.”

Diane says the most important and immediate consideration when considering a boomerang rehire is to sit down with the applicant and define their reasons for leaving – which, if conducted properly, would have been made clear in the exit interview process.

“Upon the reapplication, it is prudent that the applicant and the company work out the expectations from both sides to safeguard against it happening again. What is different this time around? Why did they return?

“On the other hand, it may well be tempting to rehire someone that you already know and this eagerness to pursue the known, and enjoy the cost and time savings from an onboarding perspective, may blind you to new talent with exceptional skills,” says Diane.

She says if managed carefully, and with the requisite planning and foresight, a boomerang rehire certainly does have advantages for a business.

She warns, however, that without a clear understanding of why the employee left and what has or has not changed with their expectations, they present a risk to the stability of teams who may be unsettled by the revolving door.