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Latest Issue Amid Great Resignation: Businesses Considering ‘Boomerang’ Hires

The so-called Great Resignation is only picking up speed, it seems.

LinkedIn data show millions of baby boomers are retiring early, and millions of Gen Z workers in their 20s are quitting and re-evaluating life goals. It all adds up to the highest “quit rate” since the government began keeping track two decades ago, reported CBS News (Jan. 9).

The December U.S. unemployment report put the rate at 3.9%, down from the pandemic high of 14.8% in April 2020. Not all the jobs available before the pandemic have returned, and the number of people looking for work last month was 717,000 higher than before the pandemic. Yet a record 4.5 million Americans quit their jobs in November.

But as many find what they thought was greener grass is actually kind of brownish, employers likely will need to evaluate whether rehiring these former employees is a good idea


The obvious plus of hiring a so-called “boomerang” employee is the individual likely won’t need much training. The person is familiar with the company, its culture, and its procedures.

Experts told The Food Institute, however, employers should not be so quick to jump at the idea of saving training costs: A lot will depend on why the employee left in the first place – and how. By the same token, returning employees may have gained new skills during the hiatus and developed a new appreciation for the former employer.

Darcy Eikenberg, a leadership coach at Red Cape Revolution, said employers should use the opportunity to rehire an employee to take a close look at the company itself.

“The manager and the boomerang employee [should] have an honest, fair conversation about why the person chose to leave the first time,” Eikenberg said. “For business owners, it’s time to listen and not lecture. It takes guts for someone to come back and recreate relationships. A leader needs to understand what the person saw or believed, and what’s changed for them.”


Former human relations professional Dave Rietsema, founder and CEO of Matchr.com, cautioned given that the employee left once, the individual might quit a second time.

“On top of that, a former employee is unlikely to have significantly changed their behavior. Whether this is good or bad depends on the employee’s performance the last time they worked for the business,” Rietsema said.

“In any industry, high tech to the restaurant business, you should ask yourself if the former employee will come back with preconceived notions or unresolved conflicts,” said Ray Zinn, CEO of Micrel Semiconductor.

“You do not want an employee starting back with a chip on their shoulder so that needs to be taken into consideration. However, at Micrel, we rehired plenty of excellent workers who had initially left for what they thought would be greener pastures, realized that Micrel was a far better place to work and asked to return. Most of those never left again.”


Karen Condor, an HR expert with USInsuranceAgents.com said there are a number of benefits to hiring boomerang employees for those in the restaurant and grocery industries.

“Since these are two businesses that normally have high turnover rates, hiring employees who quit can help reduce staff shortage concerns that are now more of a challenge than ever,” she said. “And as these businesses are customer-centric, rehiring employees who quit can enhance customer satisfaction. Customers will have the opportunity to renew relationships with an employee they favor.”

Mike Grossman, CEO of Good Hire, said employers should ask themselves just how long they’re willing to wait for the perfect candidate to come along.

“For a management position in a restaurant or grocery store, you simply can’t always afford to wait long stretches of time,” Grossman noted. “Employees need order and organization when it comes to taking shifts and working different positions. … If nobody is providing direction, employees won’t know what to do. And if they don’t know what to do, they’re more likely to look for work elsewhere.”