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The Great Regret – Why You Should Consider Hiring Boomerang Employees

Employee experience and cultural fit are among the top reasons an employee might want to return to their previous place of employment. These “returners” are also referred to as “Boomerang Employees.” These are employees who leave for family issues, or a higher paying salary, a promotion, or career growth. They gave their employer respectable notice before leaving and left on good terms. While there has typically been a stigma about returning to a previous employer, a study from Visier's Boomerang Workers Report on data containing 15 million employee records for more than 15,000 companies globally and found that a third of external hires are actually boomerang employees.

Let’s take a deeper look into why it might be a good practice to rehire a previous employee.

How does the great regret come into play?

Employees who are not “job hoppers” (lots of short tenure roles) are valued because of their loyalty and long stints with their employer. Because of their long tenure, they lack experience with other organizational cultures to be able to compare cultural fit, good employee experience, or work-life balance. A recruiter may promise a higher salary or share a new role that sounds intriguing and they take a new position expecting the grass to be greener.

As humans, sometimes it takes making a mistake before we realize that that is not the case. While salary plays a huge role in career pivots, it is not all about the money. These employees accept a new position and then experience the Great Regret. They start to miss their old job, their coworkers, or the HR policies they viewed as red tape but now understand those policies were in place to protect them. Or, they experience regret because the responsibilities of the position or perks were not as promised.

Why might it be beneficial to hire an employee who regrets leaving?

Over time, employees may experience boredom or feel their job is monotonous. Many look for instant gratification and often are easily persuaded to think the grass is greener elsewhere. After leaving your company, the regret settles in as the newness wears off. They realize how good they had it with your positive work culture, great benefits, and supportive team members.

According to Forbes magazine, out of 15,000 job seekers surveyed, 26% said they regretted leaving their previous jobs. An employee attempting to return to a previous employer has thought long and hard about their decision. This employee already knows the pros and cons of working at your company and has weighed them against a new position and organization. This experience and level of regret has proven to produce longer tenure and a rejuvenated work ethic in returning employees. With their new role, they may bring new ideas to the table and a different outlook after stepping away for a short stint of time as well.

These employees experiencing the Great Regret also might use their wisdom to encourage current employees to stay! With their newfound experience in switching jobs, they have realized how great your company is and can spread that positivity to others who might have sought after skillsets in the market and daily requests from recruiters.

While it is always great practice to compare these rehires to available candidates on the market, the negative stigma surrounding rehiring previous employees is a thing of the past.

If you have open positions and would like some help reaching out to former employees who may be interested in returning, our team of experts is ready to help you with messaging and outreach. Contact us at or 703-362-0175 to set up a time to speak with one of our experts.


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