Boomerang Employees: Should You Rehire a Former Employee?

You’ve thrown a fun and honorable “Going Away” party and have already started the hiring process for an employee who has decided to leave the company. Then you catch wind that this same employee would like to return to the company. How do you handle the decision to rehire a former employee?

While rehiring is very common with seasonal jobs or in niche industries where the amount of qualified candidates are scarce, rehiring was typically frowned upon years ago;however, times are changing as pools of talent are becoming smaller and smaller. In 2017, Jobvite reported that 65% of HR recruiters report that the biggest challenge in hiring is a shortage of talent. (EBI,Inc.) A 2015 survey by Workplace Trends also noted that 76% of HR professionals say they are more likely to hire these “boomerang employees” now than in the past. (Glassdoor)

That being said, there are pros and cons to rehiring employees and as a hiring manager or CEO, it is important to consider all angles before opening the door to the past.


  • A former employee is familiar with the company. Former employees have a leg up on the competition when it comes to understanding company culture, having experience with internal processes and familiarity with current staff. It isn’t the worst thing to have someone from the family return to familiar waters.

  • A rehire may return with improved skills and new knowledge. Boomerang employees may return with more than their favorite coffee mug. If you decide to let a former staff member return, they will be eager to share new skills or or any continued education they’ve acquired since leaving.

  • An employee returning may be a testament to a healthy and supportive work environment. If an employee returns, this can be seen as a good sign for the company. Although upon first glance it may seem like the employee is just desperate and is willing to go back to a job they dreaded in the past, it still shows that they would rather come back to their former workplace than to explore (too many) other options and companies.


  • A former employee may cost MORE money. In some cases, rehiring a former employee may save you money. You may spend less time (and money) onboarding and training or maybe the employee will keep their former salary;however, a former employee may come back with very high demands. In some cases companies may recruit former employees during a restructuring phase and if they are in management, they may be privy to the allocation of funds and require more for doing more. While this isn’t the most unfair stance, companies may save money by hiring a new employee with lower salary demands.

  • A rehire may bring down company morale. Some employees may not be so happy to see a former employee walk (back) through the door. If there was friction when they left, that friction may return with them. Other staff members who may have been vying for institutional change or even for that former employee’s position may feel threatened and unhappy. Check the pulse of your staff members and consult with your human resources department about complaints or internal issues that could arise.

  • An employee who returns may leave again. Employees leave companies for many different reasons. Sometimes those reasons are out of a company’s control and other times the reasons are a direct (and negative) result of their experience in the same work environment. An employee may want more money or an opportunity for upward mobility which is not always viewed negatively from either side if there’s just no room in the budget or company. On the other hand they may not like working conditions, hate the commute into the office or may not be in the field they actually plan to stay in long-term. Those variables are usually a sign that this boomerang-er may actually leave again. If you’re considering rehiring a former employee, be sure you’re clear on why they left the first time and while most employees won’t be completely honest, trust your gut if you feel this employee will exit stage left (again).