Welcome back boomerangs: 6 tips for a smooth transition

Boomerangs – people who return to work for previous employers – are becoming more common. As a leader, here’s how to make the transition smooth and stress-free
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312 Week Business Vision Tim Elkins CIO Enterprisers

In the past, leaving one’s employer was considered the final goodbye. Not anymore. Given today’s tight labor market, companies are now welcoming back former employees – known as boomerangs – with open arms.

It can be unclear how to integrate these employees into your organization. They usually know more about the inner workings than new hires, but they will still need direction to assimilate seamlessly back into the company.

IT talent: 6 tips to welcome back boomerangs

Here are six ways to welcome boomerangs back to your company.

1. Send out a welcome notice

Inform everyone ahead of time that a former employee is returning. Take care to ensure they receive the same level of care as new hires.

2. Re-onboard boomerangs

Your organization may have changed significantly since the employee has left. If that’s the case, you’ll need to re-onboard them to ensure they’re up to speed on how things are done now. Go over your onboarding checklist and note areas that might need clarification.

[ Also read IT hiring: Tackling the cybersecurity skills shortage. ]

3. Get reacquainted

You may think you know this employee well. However, there’s a good chance they’ve experienced some growth since you last worked together. Suggest coffee or lunch to better appreciate your newly rehired team member.

4. Actively engage boomerangs

All eyes will be on you as a leader regarding how you treat boomerangs. Your team will notice if you’re skittish or skeptical that hiring former employees is a great idea. On the other hand, if you’re genuinely excited to have an experienced employee back on your team, don’t hesitate to express that feeling.

5. Re-establish expectations and review company policies

In many organizations, expectations and company policies have changed dramatically over the past several years. For example, suppose you’ve rehired a manager who left your company before COVID, when employees were not permitted to work from home. Today, it’s likely that employees work at least several days a week remotely. Be sure your new hire understands what’s permissible so they don’t inadvertently push back on requests that are in line with current company policy.

[ Read also: The new CEO: Chief Empathy Officer ]

6. Create a plan to ensure missteps don't happen again

Review the notes from exit interviews for any insight on how you can ensure that boomerangs stick around this time. For example, if an employee resigned because they felt stagnant in their current role, consider creating a career path for them. Review this plan with your employee quarterly to ensure things are on track.

Having people return says a lot about your organization. Be proud that you work for a company that encourages people to spread their wings and return to the nest when they are ready.

[ Get exercises and approaches that make disparate teams stronger. Read the digital transformation ebook: Transformation Takes Practice. ]

For more than 25 years, Roberta Matuson, president of Matuson Consulting, has helped leaders in highly regarded companies, including General Motors, Takeda, and Microsoft achieve dramatic growth and market leadership through the maximization of talent.