When you're dealing with a limited talent pool, a boomerang employee — a worker who's left your company but is willing to come back — can be a great way to find qualified talent and minimize your risk. Before you make the offer, it's important to consider whether or not a returning candidate is the right fit, right now.
Pros of Hiring a Boomerang Employee
With an unknown job candidate, there's always an element of risk. Is he being truthful about his expertise? Can he navigate client meetings without supervision? With a boomerang employee, you don't need to ask those questions. Since you've already worked together, you know his strengths and weaknesses. You have a sense of how he'd fit in with the team, which eliminates some of the stress and guesswork of the hiring process.
Boomerang workers can also save time and money. You don't need to worry about extensive onboarding and training — these employees are familiar with your workflow and communication practices, and unless something has changed drastically, they can slip into the daily grind easily.
Drawbacks for Employers and Staff
Hiring a boomerang employee isn't without challenges. Some of the biggest drawbacks happen when your idea of "how it used to be" doesn't match the current reality. Chances are, both you and the employee have grown and evolved since he worked for your company. If either of you hold too tight to the past, it can be difficult to adjust to the new situation.
Depending on how long the worker has been gone, staff cohesion can be an issue. Did any of your current workers have problems with the employee during his original tenure with the company? If so, those old frustrations can resurface and cause dissension in the team.
Deciding When to Re-Hire Workers
If you're deciding between a new job candidate and a potential boomerang employee, weighing the pros and cons can help. Start by assessing how the boomerang worker's current skill set fits your job requirements. Do they have the practical experience, characteristics and skills you need? To eliminate the risk of possible office conflicts, it's helpful to have an honest discussion with your team. If they're excited to welcome the worker back, it's a good sign.
Finally, allow plenty of time for discussions with the employee himself. An informal coffee meeting, an office visit and a whole-team meeting can help you get reacquainted. Multiple meetings give everyone involved time to process and figure out if re-hiring is the right decision. If not, you can walk away without worrying about a wasted investment. If you're both ready to move forward, you can do so with confidence.
Hiring a boomerang employee is one way to build your team and increase productivity while keeping costs low. By proceeding with caution, you can ensure that it's the best decision for your company and the employee.
Image courtesy of Gerrit Bes at Flickr.com