The Return of the Prodigal Son to the office

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When an employer rehires an employee who has left once, they can expect a boomerang effect

There are a number of examples of spouses who have divorced and remarried each other, even several times, and their stories have happy endings. The family can endure ups and downs, meetings and separations, departures and returns, but at work things are different. When a quality employee leaves one company for another, lured by better pay or better prospects for career growth. 

Or maybe they just want to try something new. Time passes, they realize that the neighbors’ grass is not greener and they again apply for a job in the company they left before. Should the prodigal son/daughter be given a second chance? The answer to this question is given by professors from the faculty of management in American universities after thoroughly researching the topic. 

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12 employers within one career

In the past, leaving an organization meant betraying its trust, and most employees retired in the service they first joined. The return of a former employee used to be taboo, but today things are different and statistics show that the modern employee changes about 12 employers during their career. Against this background, the study published in Harvard Business School provides curious information. It benefits those employers who fear the possible consequences of the boomerang effect, as in most companies there is a shortage of trained employees, as well as staff turnover, and their concerns about how the new-old colleague will cope are well-founded. 

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Why do they leave, why do they come back

Does the employee’s productivity improve after returning to the previous employer? How does their performance compare to that of other employees? Analysts ask these questions and also classify the reasons for leaving: 

– positive, for example increasing education, 

– negative – in case of forced dismissal 

– personal – say, when the employee’s family moves to live in another city. 

The experts analyzed data of over 30,000 employees employed in management positions over a period of 8 years. 

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What are the conclusions

– The effectiveness of those who have been given a second chance does not change after their re-employment in the company, but they are less “dangerous” than some new and unknown emplyee, because they are aware of the job entrusted to them and in this sense are a more acceptable option. 

– The productivity of employees who are fired or laid off remains lower than the productivity of those who left for positive or personal reasons. They do not need time for adaptation and training, therefore they are superior to others. In this sense, their reappointment may turn out to be a good move and a smart investment, but analysts still advise managers not to feed big illusions. 

Someone who leaves once is very likely to do it again and give the same reasons again. Returning to their old workplace will not make them a better or worse employee, they are the same as before. If the employer needs new knowledge, a fresh view of the business and a loyal person in return, maybe they should think again about causing the boomerang effect. 

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Photo: Unsplash


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