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How to Catch a Boomerang: Rehiring for success

by Cydney Koukol

March 07, 2022BlogSelectionDevelopment

Whether it’s the Great Retirement, the Great Reassignment or the Great Resignation, there is an opportunity to be the culture former colleagues want to rejoin — a place where they had the talent to do a job they enjoyed, with a team they loved, in a culture where they were appreciated and made to feel significant — your work home. Over its 32 years, Talent Plus has rehired many colleagues, affectionately known as “boomerangs.” In fact, during the last year, we have welcomed back 6 boomerangs, each who left for different reasons, whether for relocation or for a professional growth opportunity Talent Plus was not able to provide. Scott Whiteford, Ph. D., Director of Leadership Analytics, has recently rejoined Talent Plus as a boomerang,


“Few people will ever experience the emotion of coming home to a company; maybe a family, but not a company. I am one of the lucky ones who can say I did this! I first interviewed with Talent Plus in February 2001. At the time, I was a first-year Ph.D. student in sociology at the University of Nebraska. I was thrilled when they offered me a job, but I made it very clear to Chairman and Founder Doug Rath I had every intention of finishing my Ph.D., which I thought may end our conversation. Instead, Doug said, ‘Great! We will be here when you finish.’ I knew at that point that Talent Plus was a different type of company and culture. I started at Talent Plus July 1, 2005. 

I earned my Ph.D. in sociology, so I was always interested in how people and society interact, and I was really excited about the type of research Talent Plus conducted and the type of service it provided. I immediately enjoyed how the interviews were people-oriented, and that we were interested in building strong cultures with our client-partners. I also knew that by selecting and developing for talent, we would be a great equalizer for race, age, gender and LGBTQ+ status, so I knew the company was doing good for society — which was important to me. 

Above all else, I thoroughly enjoyed the relationships I was developing with my coworkers; everyone was nice and desired others to succeed, and they all pulled their weight with projects. As a hard-working, relationship-oriented person (probably to the extreme!), I felt right at home. I was especially excited that our leaders genuinely cared about me (and other colleagues). Even if we had disagreements, I knew that they truly cared about me. Over the years, many of my relationships with Talent Plus employees and leaders became more like family than like coworkers.”


Often, when an opening becomes available, we move first to a list of potential boomerangs because we know their talent, their performance and their potential. An Accountemps survey found “more than nine in 10 senior managers (94 percent) are open to rehiring boomerang employees — staff members who previously left the company on good terms. But not all workers would feel comfortable returning. The research also revealed that former employees were not quite as eager for a reunion, with 52 percent of workers likely to apply for a position with a previous company.” 

What we know is boomerangs bring new experiences, perspectives, skills, ideas, knowledge and context from their other employment experience. We are excited to have them rejoin our organization and be a part of our culture. We have missed them; the foundation of our culture is relationships – it’s simply how work gets accomplished. Employees who left Talent Plus for professional growth opportunities remain on our Talent Bench for future boomerang opportunities. We stay in touch with them. We know their talent, potential, performance and culture fit. Mickey Morton, an Information Technology Business Analyst, recently returned to Talent Plus. 


“My experience as a boomerang feels unique to me because when I first resigned from Talent Plus, it was with a great deal of sadness and apprehension. I thought I had come across another opportunity that I believed was going to serve me well in my future and decided to take it, despite thoroughly enjoying this company and everything I had been offered throughout my initial tenure. What I realized very quickly was that I had given up much more than I realized.  

First and foremost, the relationships I had been fortunate enough to build with my colleagues at Talent Plus were something I wrongly believed I would find everywhere. As well, during my first year at Talent Plus, my leaders saw talents in me I had never seen in myself and pushed me accordingly to reach milestones and gain knowledge in areas I would not have otherwise leaned into.  

Upon my return to Talent Plus, and now being heavily involved in a career path I am extremely passionate about, (one completely different career than what I thought I wanted to do with my life), I whole-heartedly attribute that to the good fortune of building the relationships with the people I have, and their ability to recognize my talents and guide me in a new direction. 

Additionally, the growth and development opportunities provided to me have solidified my decision to return to Talent Plus even further. I am pushed out of my comfort zone daily and have come to thrive on that type of challenge — constantly pushing myself to be better and learn more. The opportunities to learn have been and continue to be endless. That kind of investment in my personal learning journey was something I took for granted before and missed greatly during my time away.” 


What Can Employers Do Upon One’s Departure? 

Larry Sternberg, J.D., co-author of “Managing to Make a Difference” (Wiley) says, “Organizations should be aware of the possibility they might have opportunities to re-hire good employees who leave. My first item of advice is to make sure those employees have left or leave on a positive note and that you wish them well, sincerely, as they depart. Don’t tolerate any badmouthing after they leave. Stay in touch and maintain a positive relationship. Do your best to understand why they left and think about whether the situation has changed. If you want to dial up your recruitment efforts, ask them what it would take for them to return. Then ask yourself two questions: ‘Can I meet those needs?’ and ‘Do I want to meet those needs?’ If you can answer, ‘Yes’ to those two questions, that’s the best you can do.” 

Megan Leasher, Ph.D., Talent Plus Chief Solutions Strategist and an industrial psychologist, offers insight on those employees you are not able to retain at the time but would like to reemploy. “Be clear to them that you would love to have them return someday,” she says, “only if that is the case. Companies can also consider creating an alumni group where they can continue engagement with former colleagues they may desire to boomerang back someday.” 

Welcoming Boomerangs 

Colleagues pick back up in many cases where they were — we use their original anniversary date in creating hallmark anniversaries and we look to them for the subject-matter expertise that they have enhanced since their departure. In fact, we’ve even offered some of them actual boomerangs to put on their desks. Being able to retain and enhance that potential we selected them for in the first place helps colleagues and teams grow, which in turn helps Talent Plus grow. It’s a win-win for existing colleagues and for those who return.  

Whiteford concludes, “Throughout my career, I have always said if you (1) enjoy your coworkers, (2) enjoy your clients and (3) enjoy the work, you are lucky to have a fulfilling career. Leaving Talent Plus was a very difficult decision after many years of enjoying a successful career there. While I enjoyed the work with my new job, I missed my family at Talent Plus. I often thought about my leaders and coworkers. Luckily, I kept in touch with many of them, and it warmed my heart every time I interacted with them. As time passed, Talent Plus and I started discussing my return. At one point, I was sitting with my friends in Portland discussing my potential return. At the end of the evening, I said, ‘I’m not sure what I’m going to do.’ My friends laughed, and said, ‘Your mind is already made up.’ 

After six months, I accepted a position at Talent Plus, and I was excited to get back to work and interact with my friends. I remember the first company meeting after my return, I kept smiling as our President, Makenzie Rath, re-introduced me. My first week back was filled with hugs, stories and tears. I was coming home!” 

 

author

Cydney Koukol is the Executive Vice President of Communities at Talent Plus where she is focused on our culture and global communities with intention around Talent Plus’ Promise to be a compelling partner for our colleagues to grow, clients to thrive, candidates to engage and communities to prosper.

“I am intrigued with the power of one person understanding their potentiality, their impact on their team, the organization and their life outside of work.”

Talents: Intelligence, Growth Orientation, Ego Drive, Persuasion and Individualized Approach