More businesses turning to ‘boomerang’ employees amid hiring challenges

More and more companies are turning to former staff to fill roles as a result of recruitment issues and skills shortages, according to an HR expert.

Jane Watson, head of Prism HR, the human resources consultancy operated by Edinburgh-headquartered legal firm Lindsays, which has offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee, says she is seeing increasing evidence of so-called “boomerang employees” returning to their former workplaces.

She believes it’s a trend that could become more widespread in the jobs market, as some businesses struggle to fill vacancies. “It remains an incredibly challenging recruitment market, with employers often struggling to find the skills they need when filling roles,” she said. “We know that both lifestyle decisions made during the Covid-19 lockdowns and Brexit have had a significant impact.

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“It’s natural, given the challenges, that employers use all of their contacts and turn to those they have previously employed – people who have the skills they are looking for. I have been advising a number of businesses in relation to this across various sectors.”

The HR expert also pointed out that internationally, bigger companies have established alumni networks especially for rehires.

Ms Watson added that the advantages of rehires, whether in the same or a more senior role than previously, include securing experienced staff and lower recruitment and training costs, an important factor as companies manage rising bills elsewhere. Flagged challenges include that they may be likely to leave again and that there could be resentment among other staff who had remained if the person returns to a more senior, better-paid, post.

Ms Watson added: “Rehires should be viewed as largely positive and can be especially useful when looking for specific skills in specialist sectors. It can also say a lot for a workplace that someone wants to return.

Rehires should be viewed as largely positive, says Jane Watson, head of Prism HR. Picture: contributed.

“It’s also not unusual for people to boomerang to the post that they left. Some people simply want their old job back as they realise the grass is not greener wherever they have moved on to. The days of leavers not even considering returning to a workplace are over. Attitudes and the jobs market have evolved. Peoples’ views have changed.”


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