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Consciously uncouple to benefit from boomerang employees

Consciously uncouple to benefit from boomerang employees
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Consciously uncoupling may be a phrase made famous by Hollywood couples like Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin, but the idea behind it brings benefits to all when thought of in the context of a relationship ending between an employer and an employee.

When an employee is departing an organisation the years of commitment, engagement, trust and loyalty can easily be broken in just a matter of hours if redundancy or a resignation is handled badly.

This may not matter to some organisations as they might believe it is a relationship that is simply no more. However, the rise of boomerang employees is here. According to a study by Kronos which surveyed more than 1,800 HR professionals, 76 percent say they are more accepting of hiring boomerang employees today than in the past and nearly 40 percent of employees said they would consider going back to a company where they previously worked.

In the past five years, 85 percent of HR professionals say they have received job applications from former employees, and 40 percent say their organisation hired about half of those former employees who applied.

Boomerang benefits

Every organisation would like to take credit for bringing back an employee they recently fired who goes on to inspire a digital revolution and earn the company $346 billion in market value. But not every organisation is Apple and has a boomerang employee like Steve Jobs.

However there’s no doubt that boomeranging back into the company brings benefits to the employer and employee alike - the most obvious one being the reduction of risk. Yes, things may well have changed during the time of separation but there’s still some removal of the fear of the unknown for both sides.

The speed of their orientation, productivity and training is likely to be faster. And according to an article by HBR called Cultivating Ex-Employees, companies cut costs by up to 50 percent per hire by employing a boomerang over a typical applicant. It also highlights that the impact on your employer brand is a positive one - it can only reflect well on a company when an employee who has experienced work with other companies makes the choice to apply back to a former organisation.

Consciously uncoupling

There are as many reasons as to why employees leave a company as there are employees.  Everyone has their own story; sometimes it is their decision to leave, sometimes their role was made redundant and the decision was not initially theirs. Whatever the reason, an employee is only going to consider re-joining an organisation if they leave on good terms and consciously uncouple.

It is easy to feel regret when an employee resigns, but don’t let that cloud your judgement as they depart. They should not be made to feel guilty for finding a new career opportunity, but instead they should feel congratulated and appreciated for their contribution to the organisation. And if employees are not leaving of their own volition, be transparent about why they are being let go and, when possible, try to point them in the direction of other opportunities within the same organisation. 

If this is not an option, provide career transition and outplacement services well before their last day to give them the best chance of a landing new job as soon as possible. If departing employees feel supported by their former employer and get a new role quickly, they are less resentful and more likely to boomerang.

Some industry research suggests that those employees whose roles have been made redundant are twice as likely to consider returning to a former employer if they had been supported with an outplacement programme than those that hadn’t.

With talent pools drying up and skill shortages at an all time low and predicted to become worse as Brexit comes closer to reality,  encouraging boomerang employees to return to the fold could bring multiple benefits.

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  • Rebecca Foreman
    Rebecca Foreman
    Tue, 14 Aug 2018 1:27pm BST
    I would totally agree - my organisation (CMP Solutions) would actually recommend a form of mediation when leaving. While this seems counter-intuitive (mediation is usually framed as a restorative process for keeping people in work), settlement mediation can be used really effectively to 'consciously uncouple' and leave both the employee and employer feeling more positive about the end of the working relationship.

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