Boomerang Employees: Ultimate Guide

By: | Updated: April 08, 2024

Here is our ultimate guide on boomerang employees.

Boomerang employees leave a company and then return to work for the same firm. Employees may leave for either professional or personal reasons. However, these workers may regret their choice to leave their original roles. Alternatively, some workers may leave with the intent of returning. Hiring boomerang employees can benefit your firm if they are the right fit for the role.

The trend of boomerang employees is related to employee retention tips, causes for employee turnover, and quiet hiring.

This article covers:

  • boomerang employees definition
  • boomerang employees benefits
  • reasons employees boomerang
  • interviewing boomerang employees
  • tips for hiring boomerang employees

Here we go!

Boomerang employees definition

Boomerang employees are team members who leave for other jobs for personal reasons. Later, these workers decide to return to the company. These returning employees are familiar with the company’s culture, processes, and expectations. Further, these members’ past experience helps them reintegrate into the team more easily. While away, employees might have gained new skills that can benefit the firm.

As a company, encouraging boomerang employees may be strategic. This process can help retain talent and reduce recruitment and training costs. Additionally, returning workers already have relationships with their team members. If you would like your former employees to return, then you must maintain strong bonds. By doing so, employees will feel more comfortable considering a return in the future.

Overall, the concept of boomerang employees reflects a positive work dynamic. This trend highlights a lasting connection between an organization and its former staff.

Boomerang employees benefits

Working with former employees comes with several benefits. Below are a few examples of how boomerang employees can help your team.

1. Familiarity with Culture and Colleagues

Boomerang employees are already familiar with the organization’s culture, values, and operational norms. This familiarity allows for a smooth reintegration. Also, returning employees have an existing network and established relationships within the company. This familiarity with colleagues enhances communication and teamwork. In addition, having strong connections fosters a collaborative and cohesive work environment.

If your worker has left to explore other companies or job avenues, then they will have more contacts as well. Boomerang employees can make connections with workers in other companies or industries. These relationships can help your company as a whole broaden its network.

2. Onboarding and Cost Savings

Boomerang employees need a shorter onboarding period. The employees’ prior company experience means they are well-versed in its processes. Returning workers will quickly readapt and contribute to ongoing projects.

Additionally, rehiring former employees is a cost-effective strategy. Boomerang workers are familiar with recruitment processes and training programs. Companies will need to spend minimal time, if any, retraining boomerang workers. Thus, companies will save on onboarding and training.

Onboarding is not the only cost associated with bringing on a new employee. Companies also need to spend money on ads, interviewing, and background checks. By hiring former workers, companies can reduce or avoid these expenses.

Check out this list of onboarding practices.

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3. Enhanced Loyalty and Morale

Boomerang employees often have a heightened level of loyalty. These workers’ decision to return reflects a strong connection to the company. This commitment translates into increased engagement and commitment to work. Having strong office connections improves team cohesion.

This loyalty and the return of a familiar face positively affect team morale. Seeing a former colleague return creates a sense of stability and continuity in the team. This feeling reinforces the idea that the company is a desirable place to work and return to.

Learn more about employee loyalty.

4. Fresh Skills and Perspectives

Time spent away often results in members gaining new skills and perspectives. Employees may leave to work for a competitor or a different industry. In either case, workers will return to your office with new ideas and diverse experiences. These ideas give the team a fresh outlook and contribute to continuing improvement.

5. Mutual Understanding

Boomerang employees have a mutual understanding of the organization’s strengths and challenges. Prior experience equips these workers with a realistic perspective. This outlook boosts workers’ ability to contribute to effective problem-solving and decision-making.

Companies also have a good idea of the returning employee’s strengths and weaknesses. Former managers know which projects would be a good fit for boomerangers. Additionally, leadership is familiar with what support the returning employee may need.

Reasons employees boomerang

Employees may choose to boomerang for various reasons. Here are some common motivations.

1. Career Advancement

While boomerang employees are gone, your company may offer new opportunities for growth. For instance, perhaps you create a new position, or an existing one opens up. In this case, former workers may want to return for a better role. These employees might appreciate the growth potential in a familiar environment.

Employees may also look for opportunities for professional development and skill advancement. Returning to a previous employer could provide access to specific training programs. Additionally, workers may seek mentorship or projects that contribute to their career growth.

Boomerang employees might also return to contribute to positive change within the organization. In their time away, workers may gain new ideas or skills. By returning, boomerang workers can use these benefits to improve their former workplace.

2. Company Culture and Connections

Some employees value the company culture of their former workplace. If they enjoyed their time there and felt a strong cultural fit, then they may decide to return. If employees’ new role is not a good cultural fit, then they might look for a familiar climate.

Strong personal connections with colleagues and supervisors can also affect a worker’s return. Boomerang employees may have formed strong relationships during their initial employment. The idea of reuniting with these colleagues can be a compelling reason to come back.

Here are some company culture examples and best practices.

3. Changed Circumstances

Personal or professional circumstances can change. Employees may leave for reasons such as relocation, family commitments, or pursuing education. These workers may find that returning to their former employer fits their needs. Especially for those who leave for personal reasons, it is likely they will want to return to their roles.

Some employees miss certain parts of their previous job or regret leaving. New positions may not meet expectations or fulfillment. In these cases, the desire to return to a known and appreciated environment can be strong.

Issues with the economy or job market may also encourage employees to seek stability. Returning to a previous employer can provide a sense of job security and familiarity.

4. Seasonal Positions

The term boomerang employee also refers to seasonal workers. Often, hospitality and outdoor industries rely on seasonal workers. Depending on the role, these jobs last from around three to nine months. When the season is over, employees might look for permanent jobs or another seasonal position. Folks may return if they cannot find new jobs or do not enjoy their new work. Some seasonal workers also leave with the intent to return next year.

Interviewing boomerang employees

Interviewing boomerang employees involves a few steps. Managers should assess previous experience with the company. Then, leaders need to understand the reasons for the employee’s departure and return. Finally, managers should see how well the worker fits the firm’s current needs and culture. Here are some key considerations for interviewing boomerang employees.

1. Acknowledge Previous Experience

Hiring managers should begin the interview by acknowledging the candidate’s previous experience. It is important to ask about workers’ past roles and accomplishments at the firm. This step sets a positive tone and accounts for the candidate’s past achievements.

Here are some common employee milestones to celebrate.

2. Explore Reasons for Departure

Respectfully, ask why the candidate left the company. Understanding the motivations for departure provides valuable context. Further, this step helps assess whether the circumstances have changed.

Asking why workers left may impact your decision to rehire them. For instance, the employee may have left because of a clash with a supervisor. If that individual is still a manager, then a rehire may not be the right move. However, if the worker left because of an issue that you have fixed, then rehiring can be a great fit.

3. Discuss Professional Growth

If candidates left for another job opportunity, then explore their career growth. You can ask about the worker’s new skills, experiences, and achievements. This question helps gauge how applicants’ skills have evolved during their time away.

Consider asking for specific examples of how the candidate’s skills match the role. This discussion could include examples of successful projects, leadership initiatives, or problem-solving scenarios.

In addition to hard and soft skills, former employees may change their values. While assessing professional growth, managers should also consider cultural fit. Be sure to ask applicants about their understanding of office culture and their plans to add to it.

Learn more about leadership skills and soft skills.

4. Address Changes and Expectations

Before a rehire, discuss any changes within the company since the candidate’s departure. Shifts could include organizational changes, new projects, or modifications to the work environment. Companies may have also implemented new processes or technologies. Leaders should clarify expectations and ensure the job matches the candidate’s career goals.

Along with addressing changes, hiring managers should see how adaptable returning workers are. Employees uncomfortable with change may not like adjustments made in their absence. Returning employees must be willing to adapt to new systems.

You can read change management books to help with transitions.

5. Explore Long-Term Commitment

Hiring managers must address the candidate’s long-term commitment and career goals. Boomerang workers have already left the firm once. While rehiring former employees can save money, on- and offboarding still costs money. It is important to understand applicants’ commitment levels to prevent needless spending.

Discussions about commitment should include the employee’s concerns about returning. Hiring managers can address these worries by going over expectations and possible obstacles. If workers are unsure about staying, then a short-term opportunity might be a better fit.

Tips for hiring boomerang employees

Boomerang hires can be an effective and efficient way to fill a position. If you would like to keep the door open for former employees, then check out these tips.

1. Implement Boomerang-Friendly Policies

Policies that are friendly to boomerang employees can make the return process smoother. Examples of policies include easy rehire procedures, great benefits, and a training plan. Employees interested in returning to the company will appreciate these guidelines.

2. Conduct Exit Interviews

When employees decide to leave, it is a good idea to have exit interviews. This talk is a chance to discuss workers’ reasons for leaving and gather feedback. Understanding this perspective can help address concerns and improve the workplace. If you fix the issues mentioned in the exit interview, then workers may be more inclined to return. Also, exit interviews are a way to maintain open communication.

This list of exit interview questions can help you get started.

3. Maintain Positive Relationships

Keeping a positive relationship with employees, even after they leave, is key. Managers should stay connected and be open to regular communication. In addition, leaders should show appreciation for workers’ past contributions. For instance, supervisors can share progress on a project that this member worked on. Positive relationships make it more likely that former employees will consider returning.

4. Assess Benefits Packages

It is important to update the perks and benefits you offer to employees regularly. These perks should be competitive and attractive. Examples of enticing benefits include health insurance, vacation time, and bonuses. Strong benefits can keep your current team happy and may also attract past workers.

Here are some types of employee benefits packages.

5. Evaluate Training and Development

To create a strong workforce, take a look at how you train and develop employees in the company. Providing opportunities for learning and skill improvement is essential. Upskilling helps current and returning employees stay updated and grow in their roles. Thus, the workplace becomes more dynamic and supportive.

Check out this list of professional development ideas.

Considerations for rehiring

While hiring former workers can benefit your team, it is important to do so thoughtfully. Dynamics, policies, and projects may have changed while workers were gone. When hiring boomerang employees, here are a few considerations to keep in mind.

1. Avoid Exclusive Focus

It is important not to only focus on hiring members who used to work for the company. Focusing too much on boomerang workers can cause favoritism. While bringing back former workers can be helpful, it is also important to consider new talent. Hiring should focus on finding the best individual to fill the role. If the boomerang employee is not the right fit, then managers should not hire them simply for old times’ sake.

2. Reassess Job Fit

Before bringing back an employee, consider how well their skills match with the job. It is important that the role is a good fit and that the applicant can contribute to the team’s goals. Even if the employee is returning to a previous role, individual or team goals may have shifted. Checking that the job is still a good fit helps ensure the employee is comfortable and can perform well.

3. Watch for Cultural Mismatch

While boomerang employees are away from the company, the firm may experience cultural adjustments. Similarly, workers may leave and change their values due to new experiences. When rehiring, managers should keep an eye out for cultural mismatches. Whether the misalignment is in values or attitude, it could cause discomfort. During the hiring process, be sure to outline any changes in policy, morals, or personnel. That way, you can ensure the boomerang worker is on the same page as the company.

Here are some ways to improve your company culture.

4. Consider the Impact on Team Dynamics

Before hiring a past worker, think about how their return might affect team dynamics. Considering how well this individual will fit in and collaborate is important. To accomplish this task, you can have an informal team gathering prior to the rehire. Another option is holding a walking interview and chatting with existing employees.

Even if team members had strong bonds before leaving, this dynamic may have changed. Checking team fit ensures a smooth reintegration. This step also helps maintain a positive and cohesive working environment.

This article discusses how to build a team mentality.

5. Watch for Unrealistic Expectations

Be careful about expectations that may be too high or unrealistic. These beliefs can come from both the company and the rehire. It is crucial to communicate clearly about what the company expects and vice versa.

For instance, workers may have left because they had too many tasks to complete. Companies should take this into consideration and avoid overburdening boomerang workers. On the other hand, returning members might have unrealistic demands. Addressing expectations from both sides can avoid future conflict.

6. Negotiate Boomerang Employee Salary

When talking about salary with a boomerang employee, it is important to be fair and open. This discussion may be difficult, as salary is one reason workers leave to begin with. Workers may be unwilling to return unless they make more than before.

During this discussion, consider the worker’s new experiences and the skills they have gained. Also, remember to check the salaries of similar roles and industries. Offering a competitive wage can entice workers to return.

Check out these books that can improve negotiation skills.


Rehiring former employees can have several benefits. These workers are already familiar with team dynamics and projects. Additionally, boomerang employees have likely upskilled and expanded their network while away. Rehiring former employees can also save on onboarding and training costs. Before taking on these team members, hiring managers should consider a few tips. Despite former relationships, applicants need to fit the team, culture, and company expectations. As long as you maintain strong bonds and analyze job fit, boomerang employees can be a great choice.

Next up, check out our articles on employee turnover statistics and improving employee satisfaction.

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FAQ: Boomerang employees

Here are answers to common questions about boomerang employees.

What are boomerang employees?

Boomerang employees are workers who leave their roles and later return. These employees may have left for another job opportunity or a personal reason.

Is it a good idea to hire boomerang employees?

Boomerang hires can benefit your company in several ways.

Some examples include:

  • Familiarity with culture and colleagues
  • Onboarding and cost savings
  • Enhanced loyalty and morale
  • Fresh skills and perspectives

Bringing back former employees can speed up the recruitment and reintegration process.

What are the best tips for hiring boomerang employees?

When rehiring workers, companies must consider the role’s best interests.

Here are some tips for rehiring:

  • Reassess job fit
  • Watch for cultural misalignment
  • Keep an eye out for unrealistic expectations
  • Negotiate salaries

By asking the right interview questions, managers can ensure boomerang employees are the best fit.

Author avatar


CEO at
I write about my experience working with and leading remote teams since 2010.


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