Boomerang Employees: What’s in it?


Corporates today are more than willing to get back their former employees, who, in turn, are happy to rejoin. So, why is it that companies are willing to take back those who left for greener pastures?

Forty one year old Vidyut Joshi was happy at his job. Everything was good—pay, job profile and the company itself. He had a great rapport with his boss and perfect relations with his colleagues. Then, one fine day, he got a phone call—a job offer from a reputed company. That was not all. They offered him a 30 per cent pay hike too.

Vidyut was not looking for a change but the incentives were difficult to turn down. He knew he needed the money as his expenses had shot up over the last few years with two teenaged children. Moreover, it was a senior management appointment. He spoke to his boss who, although was disappointed to lose him, did not want to hinder his professional mobility.

So, Vidyut left his job and moved on. But, after four years, at an industry conference, he bumped into his ex-boss who was now the MD of the same company. Once greetings were exchanged, the conversation steered to brass tacks. Would he like to return to his former organisation?

Would he? Why? Was his former company offering something more than his current job? If so, what? Why would the company want to hire someone who had left it for its competitor?

The answer is simple. It cost less. The company did not need to hire an external recruiter.

Moreover, both Vidyut as well as his employer knew each other well. While the organisation knew Vidyut’s competence and was well aware of his skill sets, Vidyut himself had gone around a bit and was back, and it was more than likely that his second tenure would perhaps be longer and he would not leave in a hurry. And, since he did not have to waste time knowing the organisation, its culture or his colleagues, his productivity would be that much more.

These factors, today, determine to a large extent, why many organisations are rehiring.

Why should Vidyut join back? Why would an organisation welcome back a former employee who left to join another company, maybe even a competitor?

Vishal Shah

Says Vishal Shah, vice-president, CHRD, Wipro, “If an employee’s performance as well as emotional quotient during his stint with his former company had been good, there is no reason why the company would not want the employee back.”

The reasons why workers leave organisations may be mostly personal, which may include better salary, better work hours or simply a better opportunity for career growth, but if their rapport with their former organisation has been good, they are welcomed back. Says Pradeep Mukherjee, independent consultant and executive coach, “Whatever may be the thought process behind making a job change, if the employees fit in both professionally as well as culturally; if they like the organisation and may have opted for a job change only due to better opportunities, there is no reason why companies cannot have them back.”

There is a certain comfort level with former employees. They not only know the work culture, but are fully aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the organisations they worked with earlier. In fact, this stands them in good stead and is the primary reason why organisations prefer to have them back.

“In fact, second stints often work better, especially, if the employees were happy in their earlier stints.” says Shah. “In fact, although no special incentives are offered to attract and retain ex-employees and rehiring is completely merit-based, sometimes, in the case of former employees, organisations do not mind stretching a little further in terms of salary and responsibilities, as they know the persons’ calibre.”

According to industry experts, the rerun works much better for organisations. The employee returns with enhanced skills, more experience and knowledge, and the power to add value. It is a win-win situation for both parties. In fact, when employees return, they may be hired for a different function—something they have gained experience in during their time away.

Pradeep Mukherjee

Although rehiring mostly takes place at the middle-to-higher levels (the employee may return in more senior positions), and Mukherjee feels that organisations mostly go for senior employees, it may happen at the junior level too.

Though Mukherjee and Shah both believe that the process of rehiring is not so popular in India yet, there are organisations which do have a robust rehiring process in place. Tata’s for instance, is known to reach out to their former employees through specific programmes and channels, especially to their former women employees.

HDFC Bank for instance, has developed Khoj, a rehire programme, through which the bank plans to rehire about 3,000 former employees over the next 12–18 months.

The bank uses both formal and informal channels to reach out to former employees, such as staffing agencies as well as social media and social networking platforms. The bank’s website is also being leveraged to communicate on the Khoj programme.

Like HDFC, several top companies too, use various channels to reach out to their former employees. Says Mukherjee, “Many organisations have an active alumni network, through which they can get in touch with their former employees.” In many cases, HR forums and groups as well as their HR departments help organisations reconnect with former employees. Social networking sites also offer a good platform to connect with former employees. Though there are two primary channels that companies often use to get back their old employees, according to Shah, “The best way is to take the help of existing employees as well as supervisors, who are effective and can exercise influence.”

So, do not take those farewell parties too seriously. Give them a few years. Your colleagues who bid adieu, tearfully, a couple of years ago, may be back soon, albeit in higher positions. So what? They always belonged here and this time round, are probably here to stay.


  1. Nice article. However i’ve mixed opinions.
    People leaving organization for personal reasons and later coming back is fine. There are also people who leave complaining abt the system/people and later come back burning their fingers outside.

    Some places the practice of rehiring is highly demotivating the existing talentpool who find his colleague on same ranks earlier coming back with one or two levels up. I’ve seen people getting incentivized by this, going out for a couple of years and coming back with higher pay and position that what they would have received if they continued.

    Who’s fault it is? I’ll leave it to the readers’ thoughts.

  2. Nice Article, People leaving organisation and after reviewing their outside experience with other organisation may force them to again relocate and join their earlier organisation because of work culture, and other factors including worklife balance and other employee engagement initiatives. Company should hire them again and retain with them. Rehiring is not a bad practice subject to the qualitiy of employees we rehire and their contributions in organisation development and meeting the goals. Should not loose good and trained employees who are always going to be beneficial to the organisation. Rehiring should not be at huge cost giving room for disparity in salary structure with the existing employees in similar grade and the same has to be handled tactfully without causing any hardship to our existing good team.

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