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Word of the week: Boomerang employees

Corporate vocabulary is constantly evolving as a new generation enters the workforce daily. Every week, Forbes India will decode and simplify workplace and business-related words or jargon to bring you up to speed with the lingo of the day

Published: Aug 23, 2023 03:14:22 PM IST
Updated: Aug 23, 2023 03:28:48 PM IST

Word of the week: Boomerang employees

Boomerang employees a.k.a. the ultimate ‘comeback kings and queens’ of the organisation. Boomerang employees are people who leave a company but then return to work there again.

“According to an analysis by Harvard Business Review, boomerang employees are more likely to be managers than non-managers.”

- Origins unknown


Boomeranging or the act of joining the same organisation is becoming a common phenomenon.

According to a survey by workforce management solutions company UKG, four out of 10 people who quit their jobs during the pandemic now admit that they were better off at their old job. Nearly one in five have already boomeranged to their old job.

Harvard Business Review notes that a majority of boomerang employees return to their original workplaces within 13 months of quitting.

Among reasons for why employees choose to boomerang, the HBR says, either the new organisation did not live up to their expectations or to the promises made when they were hired.

Peers are another reason to boomerang. If workers maintained strong social ties with their peers, chances are they are more likely to return.

For an organisation, rehiring boomerang employees is advantageous—it’s less time-consuming than hiring a new individual, and employees come with a sense of familiarity with the job, duties, and culture of the organisation. A boomerang employee also comes with new skills, connections, and experiences they might have adopted at the new job.

For managers and leaders, it is also an opportunity to think about the reason employees leave and what’s bringing them back.

Familiarity, however, also extends to the hiring manager. There’s a chance that employers may be ignoring stronger candidates in order to hire the boomerang employee.

Among other cons, experts list, there is a high possibility that boomerang employees may be resistant to change, if, in case, in their absence, policies, culture, or management have changed.

There may be risks associated with hiring former employees, but organisations may benefit from the practice if the due diligence is done right.

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