Employee Retention

Boomerang employees: what are they and why you want them

Four out of ten employees who left their jobs during the pandemic regret leaving. Almost 20% of those individuals have since returned to their previous employers as boomerang employees.

Something made those employees want to leave, but something also made them come back—like a boomerang.

Many employees who return get an increase in pay and responsibility. Which suggests that businesses value them enough to attract them back and retain them. 

Or that employees left in the first place because they weren’t being given the responsibilities or remuneration that they deserved.

In fact, the average pay raise for boomerang employees is 25% more than their salary before they left. Those who stay get an average pay increase of just 4% over the same time period.

As well as the huge difference in income, 40% of returning employees become managers.

Offering these things is a way to lure that internal knowledge back into the fold. It also means you spend less time and money on training and onboarding because boomerang employees already know so much about your business.

What are boomerang employees?

Think of a boomerang: you throw it, it comes back. If you throw it right, anyway.

Boomerang employees get their name from this concept: they leave, then they come back weeks, months, or even years later.

Boomerang employees could be seasonal workers who return each year or apply for a full-time role after their seasonal stint.

They could also be employees who left voluntarily or because their contracts ended.

What makes an employee leave and come back?

Sometimes, when an employee leaves for a new role, they may find the grass isn’t so green after all. The benefits package, pay, progression opportunities, culture, or commute may not be what they’d hoped for.

If they left voluntarily, it could have been because of caregiving responsibilities or health issues. It could be that they were unable to work for you, or they found an opportunity elsewhere.

Most boomerang employees return within 13 months of leaving, with three quarters returning by 16 months. This suggests that after the one-year mark is a common time for employees to return.

What are the benefits of boomerang employees?

Rehiring previous employees comes with risks. For example, there’s the chance they may be researching how you do things for a competitor.

It’s unlikely this is the reason for their return. However, it is worth discussing with them why they want to come back so that they’re more likely to stay the second time around.

There are lots of positives businesses that rehire previous employees can enjoy. So let’s take a look at the benefits of boomerang employees:

Save money on training and onboarding

Boomerang employees already know about your organization, so you don’t have to spend as much time and money teaching them about your product or service and how your business works.

You still need to make sure they’re caught up with everything that changed while they were away, though.

And make sure to support them with their training needs. Lack of training opportunities is one of the main reasons employees leave. So if you want to keep them longer this time, training (or even re-skilling) is key to retention.

New ideas

A change of scenery, no matter how short, can be a good way to change how we see the world. It can help generate new ideas that can benefit your business.

If an employee worked for a different industry or competitor while they were away, they’ll bring back a different approach to problem solving and can help you spot gaps in your strategies.

New connections

Connections are key, particularly in departments like sales. Boomerang employees can bring new opportunities and potential customers along with them when they return.

Just be sure to keep that employee happy. You don’t want your new customers leaving because they’re more loyal to the employee than to you!

How to support boomerang employees

Now that you’ve got your employees back, you want to retain them. So how do you do that?

Regular check-ins

The only way to know what an employee really thinks and feels is to ask them. This should come in multiple forms, including one-on-one meetings and written feedback, such as employee surveys.

With one-on-ones, you can have frank, qualitative conversations with employees about their roles and what works and doesn’t work for them.

Employee surveys can fill in any gaps. They also allow employees the chance to provide feedback anonymously, which can make team members who have issues with colleagues or managers feel more comfortable.

Something it’s also important to address is why they left. Otherwise, if things truly haven’t changed, they may only stay for a short time. For instance, to tide them over until a better-paid opportunity comes along.

Act on feedback

There’s no point asking for feedback if nothing changes. So ensure that once you’ve collected all that information, you look into what can be done differently and how best you can support your employees. 

This could be in the form of changing an employee’s working hours, conflict resolution if colleagues don’t get along, further training, workplace adjustments, or something else.


Boomerang employees can have many benefits in the workplace.

To ensure they’re truly happy and stick around, be sure to have open conversations about why they left and address any issues that they have/had.

If you’re ready to attract more boomerang employees and keep them around for the long-term, you need the right tools. Workrowd empowers you to deliver a delightful, personalized experience to every employee.

With a central hub for everything employee engagement, and real-time data collection and analytics for you, you can give your boomerang employees more of what they want without the stress.

Ready to learn more? Visit us online or write us at to schedule a call.

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