Maggie BleharAugust 04, 2022
Topics: Employee Experience

Return of the Boomerang Employee

In a recent survey, Bloomberg found that 20 million Americans quit their job in the first five months of 2022. Many are regretting that decision though, stating that things they thought they would find in a new company didn’t play out as planned.

In last week’s episode of Talent Experience Live, Phenoms Devin Foster and Jacqui Ricciardi met to talk about employees who leave their company, only to return after a period of time — often referred to as “boomerang employees.” And who better to talk about this hyper-relevant topic than two boomerang employees themselves?

So, “why are we back at Phenom?” Foster asked. Two main reasons:

  1. An incredible employee experience
  2. An engaging alumni network
Join their conversation by watching the full episode below, or read on for the highlights.

What It’s Like For an Employee to Leave

In an article from Advisory Board, George Anders writes, “It can happen to any of us. We're doing all right in our current jobs, when an exciting new offer from a different organization comes along. We accept — make the move — and then begin to wonder if we goofed.”

This feeling is all too familiar for Foster, Ricciardi, and many other Americans who are pressured to scramble for work in our currently tumultuous labor market.

Ricciardi, a Solutions Consultant, worked at Phenom for two years before pursuing another opportunity. However, she was only in her new role for one year before returning to Phenom in 2022. Foster described a similar experience.

“It was really hard to leave,” said Ricciardi. Not only had she formed strong relationships with her colleagues at Phenom, but they were fully supportive of her decision to move on to an opportunity she thought would enhance her career.

When both Foster and Ricciardi left Phenom, their respective teams made them goodbye videos, expressing their sincere hope for their futures. Foster said his team calls it “graduating” — and when he watched his video he cried.

This speaks to the incredible employee experience both had here at Phenom. “It’s important to recognize what an employee has done for an organization. No employee’s experience is the same, and it’s only right to celebrate that next step,” said Foster.

Related reading: 6 Ways to Engage Employees for a More Meaningful Employee Experience

What Employees Can Learn From Leaving

Forty-two percent of individuals don’t feel like their new role is living up to expectations. Ricciardi and Foster felt this as well, becoming boomerang employees who were welcomed back to Phenom with open arms.

Even though her time away from Phenom was short, Ricciardi gained a great perspective by being on the outside for a bit. She learned that “career paths are never linear. You rarely start an entry level position and move directly up the ladder to Vice President.”

However, she gained a great perspective by comparing both roles. Her role at Phenom allowed her to engage with co-workers daily, while her new role was remote — and didn’t allow a lot of time for relationship building. She also “learned a lot about myself in that year away. I really loved learning, and with how busy I was at my other organization, I didn’t have the time to learn as much as I did at Phenom.”

Ricciardi kept in touch with almost everyone at Phenom, saw her old co-workers at conferences, and met up with them at local happy hours. She realized that she needed that personal interaction — plus an opportunity for learning and development — in order to succeed.

Foster felt the same, saying “there’s an importance of having family at work. Oftentimes, we spend more time with our colleagues than we do with our family.” Learning that he needed that office environment to feel connected to company culture was a driving factor in his return to Phenom.

One more factor that influenced Ricciardi’s decision to return to Phenom? One of her old co-workers texted her and said, “Don’t you think it’s time to come home?”

Related reading: The Definitive Guide to Employee Experience

Alumni Networks: TA Teams’ Missing Talent Pool?

Both Ricciardi and Foster became boomerang employees, returning to Phenom due to the company culture and genuine relationships they had formed. However, Foster noted that if it wasn’t for a great alumni network, it might have taken him longer to come back.

Tapping into alumni networks is a great strategy for TA teams looking for talent. After all, your alumni network is a pool of people who already know your business. And companies can save on average between 33% and 66% of the cost of recruiting when they’re bringing back boomerang employees. That’s an average of $20,000 per hire saved!

Ricciardi agreed with Foster that Phenom’s alumni network was helpful in bringing her back, but she also stressed that “outreach has to come from a real place of personalization.” For example, one of her previous managers reached out when he heard she was interviewing at Phenom again, and it was helpful for her to receive that support, knowing that she would be welcomed back to the company if she so chose.

For TA teams looking for talent in alumni networks, Foster and Ricciardi shared these three tips:

  1. Continually share information about your company, like “Best Places to Work” awards or new and improved benefits.
  2. If a potential employee turns you down, check in with them after 3-4 weeks to see how they’re doing in their new position — especially once the “honeymoon phase” wears off.
  3. Have a former co-worker work with the recruiter when contacting a boomerang employee. This boosts feelings of belonging and connection.

Related reading: MGM’s Ace in Hole for Bringing Former Employees Back to Work

Remembering the “Human” in Human Resources

On being a boomerang employee, Foster said, “Humans make human decisions — you live and you learn.”

Though both Foster and Ricciardi ultimately returned to Phenom, they learned a lot about themselves — and the process — through this experience.

Here are some final thoughts from them on the benefits of boomerang employees:

  • Returning provides a quicker and easier onboarding experience, since boomerang employees are familiar with how things are run.
  • Boomerang employees bring new knowledge and ideas with them back to their original company, in turn helping the organization grow and develop.
  • A returning employee speaks directly to a company’s culture and sets organizations apart when their HR department actively continues a human relationship with employees who leave.

Learn more about creating an employee experience that will leave its mark.
Watch our webinar — Talent Marketplace: The Next Evolution of Internal Mobility and Career Intelligence — on demand.

Maggie Blehar

Maggie is a writer at Phenom, bringing you information on all things talent experience. In addition to writing, she enjoys traveling, painting, cooking, and spending time with her family and friends. 

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