Vast majority of HR managers see benefits in rehiring former employees

But 52 percent of workers say it’s unlikely they would return to previous employers

Posted February 25, 2016

Nearly all (98 percent) of human resources (HR) managers interviewed said they would roll out the welcome mat for a returning employee who left on good terms, according to a survey from staffing firm Accountemps. But not all workers would feel comfortable returning. In fact, 52 percent of professionals polled said it's unlikely they would apply for a job with a former employer.

"Boomerang employees have a shorter learning curve and may require less training, and have already proven themselves and their fit with the organization, so there are fewer surprises," said Bill Driscoll, a district president for Accountemps. "Companies who part ways unprofessionally or don't take seriously the information they glean from exit interviews could miss out on bringing back someone great."

HR managers were asked, “How likely is it that you would consider rehiring a former employee who left your company on good terms?” Their responses:

  • Very likely — 77 percent
  • Somewhat likely — 21 percent
  • Somewhat unlikely — 1 percent
  • Very unlikely — 1 percent

Workers were asked, “How likely is it that you would ever apply for a job at a previous employer?” Their responses:

  • Very likely — 17 percent
  • Somewhat likely — 31 percent
  • Somewhat unlikely — 27 percent
  • Very unlikely — 25 percent

Workers who were unlikely to return were also asked, “What is the primary reason you wouldn't apply for a job at a previous employer?” Their responses:

  • I didn’t like management — 23 percent
  • I didn’t like the corporate culture — 14 percent
  • I didn’t like my job duties — 14 percent
  • The company burned bridges when I left — 10 percent
  • The company closed down/doesn't exist anymore — 6 percent
  • I didn't receive the tools and training to do my job effectively — 5 percent
  • I burned bridges when I left — 5 percent
  • The company didn't offer enough pay/salary — 5 percent
  • I moved/relocated — 4 percent
  • I want to move forward/advance in my career — 3 percent
  • I retired/am close to retirement — 3 percent
  • Other — 10 percent

Driscoll added, "When it comes to rehiring former employees, consider why they left in the first place. If they resigned to pursue education, training or a role with more responsibility, having them back may bring new skills and ideas to the organization. On the other hand, those who quit because of dissatisfaction with management, pay, or the corporate culture may still be unhappy if they perceive nothing has changed while they were away."

Accountemps offers the following tips to companies that want to leave the door open for departing employees:

Conduct exit interviews. Get feedback from employees who resign and act on the information if it improves the work environment.

Part ways professionally. Avoid isolating those who've given notice. If they are leaving on good terms, treat them as members of the team until they walk out the door for the last time.

Communicate intentions. If you think you'd like to rehire exiting employees, let them know they'd be welcomed back. Sometimes the grass isn't greener somewhere else, and they might jump at the chance to return.

Stay in touch. Keep in contact with former employees who were top performers. You never know when their situation might change and they'll be in the market for a new job.

Consider boomerangs for different roles. If they've gained new skills and experience, they may be better suited for other positions or departments.

About the research
The surveys were conducted by independent research firms. They include responses from more than 300 HR managers at U.S. companies with 20 or more employees and more than 1,000 U.S. workers 18 years or older and employed in office environments.


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