Recruiting boomerang employees

February 8, 2019


Recruiting boomerang employees

Recruiting for boomerang employees: the taboo and potential

Webinar held January 24th, 2019.

Click here to skip the text and view recording at the bottom.

Adrie Smith: Hi everyone, welcome to the Recruitee webinar. Hopefully everyone has joined us at this point, we’re just going to get started. Today we’re going to be talking about recruiting boomerang employees, what’s bad about it and what’s good about it.

Just a quick introduction, my name is Adrie Smith, I’m the head of content at Recruitee. I’m responsible for the blogs and hopefully all the insightful stuff that you see there. If you haven’t checked it out, check it out now at blog.recruitee.com. And Recruitee if you don’t know us, already, we are a talent acquisition platform designed for collaborative hiring and to bring you closer to your candidates. Let me introduce our guest today, this is Eva, she is from LevelUp and she’s going to join us today to be talking about boomerang employees.

Just a little bit of housekeeping before we get started, if you guys have questions in between, you can leave them in the questions tab on Livestorm and we’ll get to those at the end. I’ve also sent you guys all the link to our TA innovators Facebook group, that’s where you’ll see all of the follow-up information, and, including the recording. It’s going to be posted there exclusively, definitely join us there.

Let’s get started, yeah?

Eva Balúchová: Yeah. Let’s do it.

Adrie Smith: Alright. If you can you just give us a quick introduction to yourself, and I hear that you’re actually a boomerang employee yourself.

Eva Balúchová: Yes.

Adrie Smith: If you could give us a little bit of that story behind that as well.

Eva Balúchová: Yeah, thank you. Hi everyone, thank you for having me, I’m Eva, I’m a Slovakian living in Amsterdam. I am, personally, I’ve been playing basketball all my life, I love beer, I love meeting friends, I love martial arts movies, anime, books, and research- that’s my passion. Professionally, I’ve been in recruitment business around seven, eight years, and I love it. And, I’ve become a boomerang employee.

Three years ago, I got my first job here in Amsterdam, it was actually for LevelUp Ventures and I joined as the second employee. It was amazing experience. I could help the company, build it from the start, and I could help startups and scaleups grow. It was amazing, I learned a lot but 18 months ago, I decided that I want to gain more corporate, in-house experience. So I left LevelUp to become an in-house recruiter. It was a great experience but, my biggest learning during this experience was that I’ve realized that I can be truly happy only when I’m working at a place where it’s they value innovation, experimenting, teamwork, feedback, knowledge-sharing, and creativity. And then, I started interviewing more companies, trying to look for this and the result was that I boomeranged back to Level Up Ventures. So that’s my story.

Adrie Smith: Yeah. I guess, maybe a quick definition for… I would assume that you might have looked it up briefly before joining us today, but if you don’t know, boomerang employees are basically what Eva just explained: when somebody leaves a company and then decides- whether that’s two months later or six months later or three years plus later- that they want to go back to that company.

Eva Balúchová: Yes.

Adrie Smith: It can be quite a different experience and, yeah, it is seen as a little bit negative. Let’s talk about that first. What’s the deal behind this kind of negativity? Why do people kind of raise their eyebrows when you decide, “Okay, I’m going to go back to this company”?

Eva Balúchová: Yeah. I see this reluctance towards actually hiring back former employees. I think it comes from the fear or holding onto past with this employee. Well they left, you feel kind of betrayal on their side, they’re going to betray me again… Sometimes ego is hurt. It is not coming really from objective reasons but as well, basically two main things happen when employees resign.

Bosses treat them like they are traitors, “How you could leave me?”, “you could do so much more in this company”. On the other side, as well, it’s rare that employees actually stay in the companies as long as we used to, for example 10 years ago or 20 years ago. People would, I think now they feel, more lack of loyalty and there’s a stigma of it as well as the feeling of “you left us”, “you’re unloyal”, “why we should hire you back, because you will be unloyal again” and that’s the negativity. But we have to understand that, actually, boomerangs bring a lot of benefits to companies and therefore we should overcome this fear and just get rid of this feeling of betrayal.

Adrie Smith: Yeah. Do you think that there’s any real value to that feeling of betrayal? I feel like sometimes emotions are not always best placed in businesses, but sometimes they add a little value. Do you think that there should be any justification to this feeling of betrayal?

Eva Balúchová: Of course, you should never be emotional about that. I mean if the employee really has reasons to leave, I mean you should not take it personally, because they’re not mostly leaving because of you. But just try to reflect on that, like what happened and try to a bit learn from it. And always, it’s a matter of why they’re leaving and how they’re leaving.

Adrie Smith: Yeah.

Eva Balúchová: Do proper exit interviews to discover why they left and how they leave is really important. Sometimes, employees can leave as well in bad manners, they can sabotage the work or do stupid, silly stuff with the company or be offensive towards managers, spreading bad word or they give a notice and then they stop going to work or break all the rules.

That’s bad behavior and of course then you should not rehire back, this type of employee. But as well on employer side, you should not as well burn the bridge. As well don’t, if the employee quit the job, don’t ignore this person, still, keep communicating, let this person work until the last day and don’t kick this person from systems, from projects, from communication groups, just still value it while they are working.

Adrie Smith: Right. Well, we definitely want to touch on a lot of that throughout this webinar, but I think the first thing that I wanted to pick up was: what are the real benefits of actually having boomerang employees come back? These people who have already left, have also done some time elsewhere I guess. Then what’s the real added value of actually getting over this stigma?

Eva Balúchová: Yeah. There are many benefits. First of all, these boomerangs they can come back not only as employees but they can come back as advocats, they can comeback as actually partners, customers, clients. But when they come back as employees, actually, you save a lot of money on productivity loss, the recruitment cycle is actually faster, employee productivity comes quicker, you’re saving a lot of money on retaining them, because actually, the employee turnover is less. Then you get the new fresh ideas, new points of view, new energy. As well, actually, the message to current employees is, “it’s not so great out there that’s why I’m coming back”.

Eva Balúchová: Yeah, I think those are the main benefits.

Adrie Smith: Would you recommend almost highlighting boomerang employees when they do come back?

Eva Balúchová: Yeah, I would definitely encourage that because the other benefits, right now coming in my mind is that when they come back you save a lot of money on onboarding and training because they already, probably already know the routine. If you can get them quicker to a productive level. Normally it’s from let’s say six months but boomerangs start to be productive in three months, that’s a lot of money. Yeah, I would just encourage that, but, of course, be picky with the former employees you would hire.

Adrie Smith: So that kind of leads us to the question, what kind of circumstances should be considered and what sort of circumstances may kind of be a little bit of a red flag?

Eva Balúchová: The behaviors I mentioned before, when employees give notice, how they behave at the company is important. Basically, leaving in good manners but as well, employers should let them leave in good manners if one of these behaviors is broken, then you should, I would be really hesitant to actually rehire this type of person. But as well as an employee, I would think twice if I want to go back because that employer behaved a certain way.

Adrie Smith: Yeah.

Eva Balúchová:  I would definitely be hesitant and do maybe proper screening still with boomerang employees.

Adrie Smith: Yeah. Are there any recommendations that you might give in order to manage the whole process? Or is there kind of good equation to manage not only an employee leaving but also maybe an employee coming back.

Eva Balúchová: Yeah.

Adrie Smith: Any touch points you would like to cover?

Eva Balúchová: If you have a former employee in the recruitment process, I wouldn’t recommend special recruitment process for them, they should go through all recruitment steps, just as the other candidates need to go through. Of course, their recruitment process will be quicker already.  But still I would maintain all steps.

Adrie Smith: Okay.

Eva Balúchová: When they’re leaving, as an employer, you should definitely wish them all the best, and you have to conduct an exit interview. On this interview, I would highly suggest to be open for any feedback and, yes, it could be bad feedback or good feedback, but you can learn from it. As well, talk about the future step and why they leave and-

Adrie Smith: What they are looking for, I guess.

Eva Balúchová: Yeah, exactly. And then, as well, ask them if they need anything from you: any recommendations, any advice, any help, tell them that they can contact you anytime if they need any help from you or, as well, keep in touch with them while they’re gone, for example. And that’s important step if they’re ever to come back.

Adrie Smith: Yeah. You mentioned exit interviews, are there any particular questions that you would recommend? I know you said be open for feedback, are there any particular questions that you would recommend, definitely asking? Because of course this can provide a really good resource when they do come back in the future.

Eva Balúchová: Yeah. I would definitely go further into motivation as to why they left. It’s really important to understand why they’re leaving, why you’re not making them happy anymore. Really go deep into relationship with the manager: what were you missing there? You can also go deeper into other relationships: what were you missing with the relationship with the peers or what you would like to see more at our company? What we should do more? That kind of stuff.

And definitely ask them why other companies are more attractive for them. When they are headhunted, for example. Why did you choose that other company? What they have that we are lacking? I would definitely go to these questions and get as much information around them.

Adrie Smith: Yeah. It’s kind if hard though, to feel like to not feel like you’re the jealous ex boyfriend or girlfriend, like, “why them and not me?” [laughter] I guess you have to use your own judgment, right?

Eva Balúchová: Yeah.  I don’t have any advice how to overcome the emotional parts and not to feel bad about it, “I thought that we are that great, the other company is better.”

I think you just have to be more objective and less emotional in this case, but it’s sometimes hard to do [chuckle].

Adrie Smith: Yeah, of course.

Eva Balúchová: Write it down, and maybe don’t read it directly. Maybe get emotional, it’s alright to actually, let it go.

Adrie Smith: Yeah.

Eva Balúchová: But then maybe, after a week, read it again and go back to that employee, and thank them for the exit interview. Once you read it again you might say:  “yeah okay, thanks for the suggestions, we will think about it.”

Adrie Smith: Yeah. That’s actually, I think quite a nice piece of follow-up that it really lets a candidate know their feedback was really valued.

Eva Balúchová: Yeah.

Adrie Smith: And speaking of that, what about communication? I know communication is pretty much everything in recruitment, but do you have any tips for managing the communication around this sort of scenario, not only a employee leaving but also a candidate coming back. How do you manage that whole process?

Eva Balúchová: It’s really important when the former employee comes back, that it’s communicated to the current employees.

Adrie Smith: Yes, definitely.

Eva Balúchová: Because, well, when I came back to LevelUp, I got so many questions:Why did you leave in the first place?”, “what didn’t you like about in-house recruitment? “, or “why have you come back?”

We need to be sure that we’re really answering these questions correctly as well as really transparently and honestly. I actually explained why I left at that time and what experience I didn’t like from the in house recruitment role. And then I explained my reasons for coming back and why it was important for me.

It is really important to communicate to them that this is not going to influence their current workflow, that I’m still like new employee, I don’t have any other privileges just because I used to work here. I think transparency is the answer and just explain what’s happening clearly. In the end, I think every time someone comes back, it’s just confirming to current employees that this is a great place to work.  Because somebody came back.  Okay, there are bad companies out there, let’s stay here.”

Adrie Smith: Yeah, yeah. [laughter]  It can be really seen as kind of a company advocate, then.

Eva Balúchová: Definitely. But it’s hard. Well, for me it was really emotional actually. And I needed to be vulnerable. Why did I leave before? And, for example, most of the people are leaving because of the money, right?

But, as well, to again, explain that one, “okay, that time maybe I wasn’t paid as well, but now we negotiated. And now I’m where I feel that I need a different challenge, and this is great challenge.” You kind of have to be honest about that.

Adrie Smith: It’s also quite a sensitive subject as well when you start talking about a former employee’s salary and then coming back and saying, “well, actually, they’re paying me more now”.

Is that something you can be honest about? Or do you ome with like a united front, saying to other employees, “hey, this is the reason why we’re coming back, and this is what happened.”

Eva Balúchová: When we talk about that, we discuss the message in advance. We decided to be completely honest. We just say how things were before and how things changed. In my case, I told people how I changed as well as a person because, well, we don’t stay the same with those experiences, I hope to get more wise.

Adrie Smith: Right.

Eva Balúchová: We just decided for company honesty and company transparency, but that’s a decision of ours and it’s really hard to be transparent.

Adrie Smith: How is that received on your end, personally?

Eva Balúchová: It was really well received. Actually the team was amazing, they really welcomed me back and they told me how the energy changed with me coming back. I got a lot of enthusiasm from that.

Adrie Smith: Yeah. And do you think for boomerang employees, how do you make sure that they don’t leave again?

Eva Balúchová: Well, first of all, you have to understand that from the moment you hire somebody, they’re going to leave someday. Every time, somebody’s going to leave. They’re not going to stay forever with you. I think we should stop worrying about when they’re going to leave, because they going to.

But you can own this process. If you can get an employee stay within your company 24 months instead of 12 months that means you’re doing a great job, and that should be your goal. Don’t worry about employees leaving you, just be sure that they’re going to be with you long enough for you to offer them enough experience. I would recommend that employers give employees all you got. And if they decide to leave, let them go.

Adrie Smith: Yeah. Well, just do an exit interview.

Eva Balúchová: I would just not worry about it too much. You can’t really prevent that.

Adrie Smith: Yeah. It’s inevitable that people will leave.

Eva Balúchová: I mean, job hopping is the new norm. I thought about it, I should be ambitious, right? We actually want that. I’m interviewing candidates and I know we want them to be ambitious people. I learned to follow my career, be loyal to myself, be relevant on the market, and work hard where I’m working.

But loyalty is not a given, so that means that I might leave if the business doesn’t give me what I need, meaningful work or meaningful work life balance. I mean, then why I should work there? I think, therefore, the new loyalty is that I will give you 100% while I’m working for you, but if the business doesn’t give me what I want, meaningful work or a meaningful life, then I’m not going to stay there.

And I think the most loyal act an employee can give you is to leave when they don’t feel good about the job anymore, when they are not enthusiastic anymore, when they don’t like the company anymore or they feel like, “I hate it here”. Well, they should leave that time because their productivity is going down, and they’re actually putting this negativity on other people, so actually its a good thing. So be happy about that.

Adrie Smith: That they respect the company enough to leave.

Eva Balúchová: Yeah, exactly.

Adrie Smith: When they know it’s not working out anymore.

Eva Balúchová: Yeah, that’s my opinion.

Adrie Smith: Do you think– you kind of hinted to it before, as well– Do you think that when they coming back, they’re expressing that form of loyalty, as well?

Eva Balúchová: What do you mean exactly?

Adrie Smith: They’ve obviously have kept you in mind, they’re like, “Oh, yeah, that company I worked for, maybe things have changed, maybe I have skills for a different role!” Don’t you think that almost deepens the loyalty that they’ve already built, by leaving but also by coming back?

Eva Balúchová: Definitely. I think you’re creating the way stronger feeling of loyalty for that company. Yeah, because it’s just good sign when people are coming back, and you should be proud of it because that means you’re changing, you’re learning, you’re getting better. I mean, the key is actually become a company people want to return to. That means you’re doing great, you have great culture, and people then feel proud, “Oh, people coming back”, “Oh good”.

Adrie Smith: Yeah. That’s quite nice. It’s a bit ironic that boomerang employees have been considered disloyal, I guess?

Eva Balúchová: Yeah, I think they are creating with that actually lifetime loyalty, right?

Adrie Smith: Yes.

Eva Balúchová: Because they were probably thinking of you when they were gone, they were checking up on you, probably, I think when you send them out of your company with good manners, I think you will create that lifetime loyalty that they’re ambassadors of your brand, of your company. They might bring new clients in, “Yeah, you should check Level Up, they have always great job, go apply for their job.”

The thing is, every time somebody leaves you, they can or hurt you or help you. And I bet as a company, you want them to say good things about you. If they say good things, the word will spread. You’ll always get something back from it.

Adrie Smith: Yeah. Would you consider boomerang employees when recruiting, should it be considered as part of your sourcing strategy?

Eva Balúchová: Yeah.

Adrie Smith: If you’re now say looking for employees– it doesn’t matter the role– do you keep a list or talent pools (as we have in Recruitee) of people who previously left?

Eva Balúchová: Yeah. If I would apply it to strategies… The first strategy is get over that fear, get over that betrayal, emotion, whatever. Don’t hold on to that. The second strategy would be create a culture that people want to return to, and third create alumni clubs.  With that, those who want to create alumni clubs is first you have to built a talent pool or talent pipeline of former employees, then, you should create some knowledge sharing within this pool. Let’s say you would create a newsletter to send them. You can create, actually, different networking events with this alumni. You have to stay in touch with them. That would be the strategy in the end to create a great talent pool and then maintain relationship with them.

Adrie Smith: Yeah, I think it’s also, I mean, I work in content, and I think it would be really interesting to send out former employees updates about your company. Because, of course, they’ve left, but they still have some stake in the company, right? They still care about their colleagues who are still working there and even though they might see the occasional Facebook photo or maybe Instagram post about their colleague’s work. It would be nicer if they could receive something, “Hey, this is where we are, this is what last month was for us”, a bit of an internal sneak peak into your company because they’re still part of the extended family.

Eva Balúchová: If I can advise on this, on what to share with the alumnis: I would definitely share, let’s say, some personal development training materials, I would, as well, share of course the company updates, about the service, on the product, on what’s happening, what kind of party we have, but, as well, job openings, of course, I would share these things. But as well, I will actually share alumni stories or alumni’s achievement, like if for example, one of our former employees would work at another great company and they are doing so great there, I would share that. It came from us, that means that we helped them turn into something something better. Be proud of their achievements, and share it, that you are proud of them.

Adrie Smith: Yeah. And it’s a nice, fun way of engaging your boomerangs. Or, well, not boomerangs yet, technically! Helping former employees become boomerangs.

Eva Balúchová: Yeah, I would maybe create some mentorship program with the alumni where maybe old alumni can ask the current employees like, “Hey, how you would solve this or that?” Just as well a beautiful community where people are helping each other, talking with each other, are super engaged, that will end only in positive results for the company itself.

Adrie Smith: Yeah. Would you recommend this be done by email or by Facebook group or LinkedIn. I mean LinkedIn groups are a little bit of a weird place currently, but I know Facebook groups, we have TA Innovators. How would you maintain an alumni group and keep it  active?

Eva Balúchová: I think that depends on how many alumni you have. If you have really like thousands, hundreds of them, I would probably create, actually separate the employee directory from former employee directory, website where they can subscribe to.  Then, other good option is actually Facebook group, I don’t know, on a monthly basis I would send newsletters, I would let them share stuff as well and I would share the blogs. But, I think Facebook group is the best choice.

Adrie Smith: Yeah. I mean that’s why we’ve chosen it, but I think it’s kind of an interesting concept of maintaining communication with boomerang employees.

Eva Balúchová: Well, you need a person for that. It’s not going to maintain by itself. [chuckle]

Adrie Smith: Who would you recommend to kind of manage this whole process? Because of course, I think recruiters are often quite busy. HR is often even busier.

Eva Balúchová: [chuckle]

Adrie Smith: Where would you personally envision this responsibility?

Eva Balúchová: That depends, really, Recruitee can do that, if you create a talent pool. Maybe some social marketers can do that, because they already have to maintain the distribution of the content. I think one channel more should not be a problem, you have many tools for automation, for this. And, yeah, maybe some HR admin can take over it or somebody who really actually wants to do that.

It’s hard to really, right now delegate it to a person. It depends on the company if it’s like small startup probably a recruiter would need to do that or office manager maybe need to do that or whatever job title. In big companies probably it will be separate role.

Adrie Smith: When I think about it now, it is a little bit more of a long term project. It’s a lot like employer branding. Because it is something that doesn’t really apply to the average employee, a boomerang employee is probably not going to come back the in the next two months, but probably more like a year or two years or months. So it’s a little bit of a long term game.

Eva Balúchová: I think when you would look to the stats, the average voluntary turnover of new hires happens actually within the year. On average people stay in the job between 14, 16 months actually, if you look on these stats probably the boomerang can comes back faster than you might expect.

Adrie Smith: So then the returns on those kinds of programs can be within 14- 16 months.

Eva Balúchová: Could come actually faster. But for example, how we’re doing it in Level Up with  former employees is, that we still, we have actually a WhatsApp group. So there are some funny things and some really serious questions happening in the WhatsApp group. We also have a slack channel where we can share everything so we know what’s happening and then we can ask each other stuff. That channel is not maintained by anyone in particular, but we are like, I don’t know, 15 people. So then it’s just organically maintained.

Adrie Smith: Yeah. Yeah. I mean that’s also an option that it’s not any one person’s responsibility, but maintaince happens more organically like this.

Eva Balúchová: I think in the future it should be a strategy for the company to really be smart about how we’re going to maintain the relationship which news, which updates we send. We are like really small young company so we can be more like funky and informal, but if you then maybe you have 20, 30 former employees, then it would be smart to actually be more strategic.

Adrie Smith: Yeah. So are there any particular tactics that you yourself would recommend for people who are really looking to make the most of  a boomerang employee?

Eva Balúchová: So first tactic is you have to build some alumni group and iit can be WhatsApp chat, it can be slack channel, it can be Facebook group or separate website or LinkedIn group, whatever you want. That will be the first step. And then as well think about what you’re shaing in this group, and make sure they’re consistently getting information about the company. So that will be the strategy, but the first thing is having a talent pool of former employees and knowing who are the people in that pool.

Adrie Smith: Yeah. So how would you recommend actually getting their CV? Getting their CV when they first applied or getting a new CV’s or…?

Eva Balúchová: I think the moment they are your employees. You can have the data for a certain amount of time. I think it can be actually pretty long. So you already have like their, email address, their contact details. I mean if they have a Facebook profile so they’re updating always some stuff. So we kind of see what’s happening in their life.

You don’t need their CV. I mean you know their former position at your company, most likely they’re going to follow the career, just actually getting better skills or more experience. And I think the moment where you’re posting job opportunities and they might react on that then you know. I don’t think about the storage CV’s, but you have all the employee information. So we have a talent pool of the old CVs basically and the information we gathered during the employment.

Adrie Smith: Okay, nice. Yeah. So you always have that to refer back to then.

Eva Balúchová: Yeah you can always check and as well you can always check like how the actual interview at that time went, it’s sometimes a bit funny. You can as well create new notes about them. I think what’s really important for companies as well is to having like entry interviews or 30, 60 days interviews and then check up interviews with employees and as well as gather this information. So track if your employees are growing or feeling down and so we have all these notes with the portfolio.

So then we’re looking for something we can go back and check it out. I think now this person can actually be senior now.

Adrie Smith: So are they almost your first point of call when you start looking for a position or is it just somewhere in the sourcing process?

Eva Balúchová: In my mind, they are the first thing because I already know them so, and it’s really easy to contact them. ”Hey, how are you doing? How is your wife? So how is the new  job?” So you can already start talking really, really nicely and then just check up with them if they may be open for opportunity and so I would have them first time in my mind because that’s like kind of low hanging fruit.

Adrie Smith: So for you personally- last question, at least on my end- what was the moment where you felt like you were like, you know what, I’m going to go back to Level Up? What was that moment? What made the decision for you? Because I think that’s really helpful for employers to know so that they can really inspire that same feeling in their own former employees and make them potentially boomerang.

Eva Balúchová: So when I was on the market, again, I was in process with a few companies and I knew I wanted to find a place where I can be innovative, where I can experiment, where I can be creative and where the feedback is very supportive because I’m pretty honest and really direct and sometimes people don’t like it or it’s sometimes hard to listen to the honest feedback. So there I say, okay, I have to find a company where I can be by myself. And I went through these interviews and I couldn’t really find a place where I can be 100% myself, or at least I didn’t think so.

So, I go to bit like frustrate and I asked my mentor about what  I should do, how long could be unemployed, like searching for my utopia employer. And yeah, he said: “keep going, keep going.”  And then I actually contacted Aik from LevelUp. Like “Aik, I need your help, I need your advice. So I want to talk with you about like if there are out there any startups or scaleups.”  So which one he met maybe which one may be could be good for me. We met over lunch and he was listening to me and he just looked at me and he said “ well, I just see that you have to come back.” And I was just like, “yeah, I think so too. So, how are we going to do that?”

Adrie Smith: So sometimes it’s just the offer that needs to be made?

Eva Balúchová: Yeah. I was telling him how I need experiment, for example, right. “I want to try that reach out and that reach out and this new description and that…”  And lots of times in an in-house environment, you cannot make fast changes.

Adrie Smith: Yeah, it takes a while.

Eva Balúchová: And I’m more like fast-paced type of person, I just want to change things and see how it works. And he said, “Well you know, at LevelUp you can do that.” And I was like okay, I like it. And I already knew that I can be really honest because of the LevelUp transparency and honesty is actually number one goal. So I was like okay, and they already know me for all my bad and good things so I think I will be happy there. And then we started like more communicating on that but we as well when through few lunches about that, like okay you know, those issues reminded us, how it’s changed.

Adrie Smith: Some important questions to ask I guess as well. What’s changed?

Eva Balúchová: Yeah. Yeah. So as well like well he as well asked me like okay, about that time, like you didn’t like this. What do you think we, how we are handling it right now? Or what are your expectations for right now? What you want from us to give you. So those were really, really good questions to ask me. And, we were really transparent and honest and then I just decided like, yeah, it seems like this is the place where I can be myself. I can actually experiment, I can do what I want.

So let’s give it a try. Let’s see. So far it’s going really well. I’m super happy, but you ever know. I might leave someday, right [chuckle].

Adrie Smith: As we said, all employees leave eventually. You’re not going to have the 30 year employee, it’s unlikely.

We’re going to open up our question and answer session. So, if you have any questions, I know I’ve already seen a couple come in. You can feel free to leave them there. And I’ll just pass it along to Eva.

So, first one:“Rehiring employees can also pose some challenges. Example, one challenge I see as a current current employees might be threatened if the re-hired employee has a higher level job. Are there any other challenges?” So we talked about a little bit about the money. It’s also a bit of an issue.

Eva Balúchová: Well I think the challenge is that you can remind current employees by sharing your reasons why you left. You can kind of maybe point out some of the problems by sharing your reasons. So they might start thinking, yeah, but maybe I’m afraid. Well, or yeah, maybe I want a more innovative environment or something. But there is always this type of challenge as well with new hires from completely new candidates.

Adrie Smith: Yeah. But I think, I think then it’s just about being open and honest with your current employees. Right? And indeed if somebody has come back, think about it from the perspective of a current employee, I would want to know, okay, well why is it that they have a better job? Why is it that they have a higher salary? You want to know why they left. Everybody’s kind of interested in maybe like the smaller drama, right? That’s quite a natural thing.

Eva Balúchová: Well, what we did there was like the day I came all I had an introduction with all our employees at Level Up. And, I was saying, okay, well I know what I’m really good at. And as well, l showed them my profile and I was telling them what I would like to help them with or what I would like to teach them, what I want to learn and, what kind of experience I have. So I mean, yeah, so if you are senior you need to be able to actually prove that.

Adrie Smith: Yeah, I also know that well particularly here at Recruitee  we often have team interviews so we have multiple people from that particular team who are sitting in. And if you indeed to treat boomerang employees like you would a normal candidate, you would have the team interview them still. And that way, those kinds of challenges at least come out perhaps a bit earlier than they might otherwise.

Eva Balúchová: Yeah. I still had the whole interview process. So I still needed to talk with the Team Leader. She also needed to accept me for who I am.  I met like three people in the interview process in the end. So I didn’t really skip any rounds.

Adrie Smith: Also have one here. “Does this apply to candidates who have declined an offer in  the past and want to come back say six, 12 months later, 18 months or so?”

Eva Balúchová: Of course I think I have even seen it in my outreaches. So even when I’m rejecting people I always tell them: if you want to check our current website later on, like six months, 12 or 18, please do and check it out because things may change.

So the same goes with people I’ve rejected. People are always learning. So why we should close the door on people who adapt. I mean I was at one point an immature young lady and  that’s of course changed as well. I learned from my experiences. So I changed. It’s really important when you bring a former employee back that you don’t treat them like you did previously. Because they change. So don’t hold onto the past.

Adrie Smith: Yeah. Well it’s kind of the same if somebody rejects an offer, even if they were never employed with you, there’s still this feeling of betrayal. Right? But indeed I think our talent acquisition manager here, she even keeps talent pool full of people who, yeah, maybe it didn’t work out at the time. Maybe this is not the right fit six months ago. It’s quite a good resource to have. Especially because you’ve offered them, right? You said, hey, we want to have you. And it just didn’t work out. I think that’s a massive opportunity missed if you don’t engage with these candidates.

Eva Balúchová: Yeah. You should create a talent pipeline of these people and just be sure that you’re nurturing them because it might be not the right time at the moment, but you never know what will happen in half a year or in a year. Things are changing so fast in certain companies.

Adrie Smith: Yeah. And also that’s also a really good point. The company also changes. So what you’re offering them in terms of professional development or team or, you know, placement in the market is also different. It could be six months later or go on for 18 months. I think we have another one. “Are there ever negative reactions to boomerangs from people who have stayed there? How do you manage the negative reaction?”

Eva Balúchová: So from my personal experience, I didn’t have any negative reaction. But it could happen- I could imagine. Maybe it’s from people that didn’t like them initially.

Adrie Smith: I think the transparency element is quite important. Right?

Eva Balúchová: At one point, it’s just not professional, right? I don’t know what’s meant from this. No, I was just like get over it. You have to talk it out  of course. Right. If it’s a negative reaction, try to figure out where that negativity is coming from. Like why are you feeling threatened or you do you have a real reason.

So of course a manager should speak with an employee about that. In the end it’s possible that you cannot prevent that. I think we are human. There’s always something.

Adrie Smith: Yes, emotions happen, right? So it’s just about managing them in the workplace, but it does get difficult.

Eva Balúchová: You have to just talk about and I mean it’s hard because you have to put so much effort to actually help people to start talking about these emotions and if there are any concerns and just explain how it’s really working. I think that communication always solves everything in relationships in the workplace. So we should just start communicating with each other. I know it’s, it’s like a really a easy, simple solution, but actually it’s quite good. It works.

Adrie Smith: So we have another one here. “In some cases a brand new employee could do the job much better than the former employee. Do you agree and what are your views?”

Eva Balúchová: Yeah, many times new employees can do better job, but as well it depends like which talent will actually will actually attract for the position. It’s hard to find the right talent for you. Sometimes you get to know a former employee sooner than the new talent.

Adrie Smith: Well, I also think what we were talking about before, about the amplified loyalty that you get with a former employee coming back that you have to build this loyalty with a brand new employee, which is fine and I think especially if they can do the job and they can do it really well. Yeah, that’s a super valuable, but indeed I think almost the advocacy and the extra added value of somebody who is that loyal and that they’ve come back and that they’re now offering a lot of new skills, of course maybe not better than the other brand new employee, but this kind of brand advocacy is so valuable in a way that you can’t compare it to a new employee.

Eva Balúchová: Yeah, that’s true and as well, mostly with former employees you already have culture fit. And culture fit is often way more important than skill set. And if he/she is really great already with a team and this employee is so amazing and everything is great… I mean the skill set at the end is not that important. Because you can teach people to do stuff, but the culture fit is hard to teach.

Adrie Smith: Yeah. And I think it is one of those things that you can ask tons of questions to determine a cultural fit, but indeed you don’t really know until you’ve seen the dynamic in play. I think even recruitment it can be considered a science and I think we try to make it as close to a science as humanly possible, but indeed the real deal is actually just seeing people work and seeing how it works out because you can do trial days you can do job tests, but even then you might not be able to see how their genuine interaction is.

Eva Balúchová: I think like so the most important thing for high performing teams is if they trust each other and if they can be vulnerable with each other. Because then they’re actually performing better. And then sometimes with the new person the trust is hard to gain. Right? It takes time. Exactly.

But with former employees, the trust actually comes sooner because you already know them. They’re already kind of know what you can expect from them. So probably the team fit is faster, then productivity comes faster. So yeah, I think for me it’s a bit easier to accept former employees for more, for cultural fit reasons.

Adrie Smith: Then we have another one here.” How do you make sure that boomerangs don’t leave again? You don’t want to train them in another role.”- I think this is maybe for another role rather than same role- “only then for them to leave?”

Eva Balúchová: Well, as I said before, every time we hire somebody they’re going to leave someday. So it’s such a waste of time to always think about it. “Oh, they’re going to leave” They’re going to leave. I mean, I don’t see, it’s for me to like really a waste of  time to even think that somebody is going to leave. I would rather be am I doing everything right to keep them. So rather worry about that. Am I great employer to keep them rather than are they going leave me, you know, maybe they have reasons to leave. So let’s rather think how are we going to keep them/

Adrie Smith: Yeah. And what you said before that sometimes it’s better that they leave and I think some, I think to think about it that way is much more constructive. You have to say, okay, well yeah, they’ve kind of reached the end of what they wanted to do here,  the skills that they wanted to develop.

Eva Balúchová: Yeah. Well they can.

Adrie Smith: Yeah, and I think to be able to say, okay, now it’s time. That’s okay. But maybe, maybe then you need to start thinking, okay, was there another option that I could have given them? Was there a rule promotion? Were there other skills that we sort of made it accessible for them to develop? I think that’s another question.

Eva Balúchová: Yeah, some, some roles are just suitable just for one year, maybe like… I don’t know which one right now, but…

Adrie Smith: If you think about call centers. I don’t know where I’ve read this so don’t quote me on that. I think the average jobspan is like six months in those particular roles. And that’s quite long. So knowing and then that’s a different kind of hiring and I’m sure you know this those are high volume roles that are often repeatedly hired for, it’s a whole different ball game.

Eva Balúchová: Yeah. For some roles, they don’t have really a career path, right? Like for example, let’s say office manager.  It’s not really you’re going to naturally move from there unless you have office management, about three office managers under you, but it’s still like kind of same roll.

So probably these  people will stay just for a few years if they’re ambitious and then switch another role. I think it depends really on the role and what kind of career possibilities that we’ll have and as well within your company. Do you have other paths for that person? They’re going to leave at one point, so yeah.

Adrie Smith: I think we have time for one more question, we kind of  touched on this before “can you keep the details of employees under the GDPR?”

Eva Balúchová: Yeah. As I remember it correctly, you can have details of your former employees.

Adrie Smith: For longer than your standard candidates as well. For legal purposes. You’re allowed to keep them.

Eva Balúchová: So yeah. Yeah,

Adrie Smith: Obviously check it yourself just to be sure!

Eva Balúchová: But if I remember correctly when I was talking with our GDPR officer about that, we could have it like way longer than one year.

Adrie Smith: Definitely.

Eva Balúchová: Therefore, when you create alumni clubs, let’s say Facebook group, you’ll have all there. You don’t have to be concerned with that.

Adrie Smith: Yeah. There’s no consent required because they’ve already consented by being part of the group But obviously not legal advice, we need to stress that.

Eva Balúchová: I think it’s okay.

Adrie Smith: Yeah. So, I think, we’ve gotten to the end here. So you guys will have gotten a TA innovators  link to join us on the Facebook group. If you liked the webinar, if you want to send it to your colleagues, you can ask them to join because that’s where we’re going to be putting the recording. Also, you can join us on the blog there we’re constantly updating a bunch of content there. And yeah, also if you want to try us out come to Recruitee and see what we can do for you when it comes to boomerang employees, you can use the link right there. But yeah, I just want to really thank you for coming in, Eva!

Eva Balúchová: Thank you for inviting me!

Adrie Smith: Thank you for sharing your experience with everyone.

Eva Balúchová: Thank you.

Adrie is a former recruiter and Recruitee's Head of Content & Branding. With a passion for hiring and tech, she is responsible for all the awesome stuff that gets published on this blog. You'll see here on the Recruitee webinar, podcast, and even on stage at #TalentCon.
One Comment
  1. Jennifer

    Hi Adrie, I was wondering if there are any other good examples of how you can keep engaging former employees through a campaign in order to make them boomerangers. Besides a newsletter and an alumni group I mean. I would like to set up something 'personal' scaled for about 40 to 80 people. I try to keep them engaged via 'win a goodie' type things on our company Facebook page for example, but that is not directly aimed at former employees. That's just for everyone following us. Looking forward to hearing from you! Kind regards, Jennifer

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