When a member of staff left a company, it used to be that door was shut behind them for good. Now, with the rise of ‘boomerang employees’, it turns out that door is actually more of a revolving one – as unLTD’s Jill Theobald can herself testify to…

On the face of it, international brands like Microsoft, Dell, JPMorgan, and Deloitte might not appear to have much in common with homegrown Sheffield City Region companies like Tufcot, Redbrik, and Diva Creative.

But taking a second look, it turns out that they are all benefiting from the trend of ‘boomerang employees’ – where companies themselves are taking a second look at former members of staff, cultivating a relationship with those ‘alumni’ and, in some cases, welcoming them back.

Traditionally, business leaders tended to think if someone had left, that was that – they’d gone for a reason, either personal or to do with the company at that time.

But times change. As do companies. As do people.

I am currently on my second stint at HR Media, the company that publishes unLTD with Mezze Publishing, and unLTD’s editor Richard is also a boomerang HRM staffer, so we definitely know the benefits from an employee perspective!

A Forbes magazine article, meanwhile, highlighted key benefits from the business owner’s point of view including company culture (‘you already know exactly how former employees fit in at the organisation, and how they worked with numerous individuals’), and cost-saving because former employees ‘take less time to reach their full productivity capacity’ – plus the recruitment costs can be significantly reduced compared with unknown applicants.

Returnees also, say Forbes ‘bring back fresh perspective. If an employee was wooed to a company because they saw an opportunity to advance their career, then they’ve gained valuable experience during the time they were gone’.

So it’s no surprise, then, that as company culture evolves, it brings with it a revolving recruitment door.

We chatted to three companies about their ‘boomerang staff’ as well as the employees themselves to find out why the boss’s door really should always be open…

Mike Laskey, Content Manager at Diva Creative Before I moved to Nottingham, all my copywriting and comms experience was agency side. I’d never focused solely on a single organisation’s marketing before.

I found a client-side role and while it wasn’t what I expected – the commute was almost as long as it would’ve been staying at Diva – it did give me some new perspectives.

I saw the comms challenges that large organisations like some of our clients deal with first hand, which now helps me anticipate their initial concerns and priorities better. Working in a different city and sector definitely made me a more well-rounded copywriter.

Amanda Pearce, Director at Diva Creative It was great to welcome Mike back to Diva, and obviously there are plenty of benefits as an employer when someone returns to the business.

For starters, we knew that he’d fit straight back in with the team and our culture. It’s naturally a quicker process than hiring someone entirely new, as you don’t have to allow time for them to get up to speed with how you work.

Essentially, both parties know what they’re getting! I think Mike’s time away also gave him plenty of extra experience in new areas of marketing – a big positive for us.

Zoe Roberts – tax partner, BHP

Leaving BHP in 2004 was the hardest decision I have ever had to make. I’d joined the firm in 1998 as a trainee after graduating from a degree in Mathematics at the University of Sheffield and, like so many students, I wanted to stay in the city.

Working for a national company in my new role taught me many things – some good, some bad – but when I returned to BHP in 2008 I had gained valuable experience in several different areas.

I’d heard BHP were looking to expand their tax team so it was great opportunity to ‘come home’ as first an associate and then in 2013 a partner. The decision to be part of the BHP family again was a very easy one.

John Warner – managing partner, BHP

Zoe started at BHP as a trainee and quickly became a valued colleague with obvious potential for a long and successful career with us, evidenced by the national prize awarded to Zoe when she qualified as a Chartered Tax Advisor. So I was disappointed when she left the firm but keen to wish her well for her new challenge.

We appreciate that sometimes you can only experience certain aspects of our profession by working elsewhere and we were certainly aware that Zoe was rapidly expanding her knowledge in key areas.

However, I was delighted when we were able to welcome her back home to BHP. Zoe is a hugely respected figure in our industry, and she is very important to the culture we have here.

George Gordon – new homes sales manager, Redbrik

I first worked for Redbrik when the company was just starting and even then, I knew I was part of something exciting.

When I left to go travelling in 2016, I kept in touch with the amazing team and it’s been fantastic to watch the company grow over such a short space of time.

Everything I know about estate agency, I learnt from working at Redbrik so when I returned home and saw they were hiring, I jumped at the chance to apply.

Mark Ross – director, Redbrik

We were sad to say goodbye to George – he was one of the first employees we hired and he played a big role in helping us develop the business.

As soon as he interviewed for the position, I knew we would hire him again – he embodies the Redbrik ethos and really understands what we want to achieve as a business.

He’s jumped straight into his new role, taking this new challenge in his stride – it’s as if he never left.


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