Rise of Boomerang Employees

11th April 2023

Posted In: Be In The Frame

Almost three quarters of Irish professionals (69%) have stated that they are open to returning to their pre-Covid employer – with half admitting that the reasons as to why they left are no longer applicable in today’s market.

According to a recent poll from recruiter Robert Walters (of 2,000 professionals), 43% of workers who had left their job after lockdown did so for better pay – with a further 37% leaving for a better workplace culture or more purpose/fulfilment in their role.

Fast-forward two years later and 45% of professionals admit that their current employer is no longer meeting their needs – with a third stating the cost-of-living crisis and hybrid-working fatigue (25%) has changed how they feel about their most recent employment situation.

Suzanne Feeney – Country Manager at Robert Walters Ireland comments: 

“The post-pandemic bounce back saw record numbers of employees leave their job in what was billed as ‘The Great Resignation.’

However our research indicates toward first signs of ‘The Great Regret’ – with an overwhelming number of professionals stating that they would be willing to return to their pre-Covid employer, a mere 18 months after leaving.

“Across 2021 we saw record pay rises offered to professionals, with promises of an flexible and hybrid culture. Come 2023, and these pay rises now pale in comparison to the rising cost of living and inflation – with those new starters who were offered inflated salaries being much less likely to have received a pay increase this year.

“It appears that workers are realising that the grass may not have been greener after all.”

Keeping a Foot in the Door 

80% of those surveyed admitted to staying in some form of contact with a previous manager – with almost a third stating that this was for the primary purpose of keeping the door open for future job opportunities (31%).

In fact – a quarter of professionals have admitted to reaching out to a previous employer in the past year regarding job opportunities, with a further 10% stating that they have not done it yet but intend too this year.

Only 1 in 5 employees have completely shut the door on previous employers, with 20% stating that they keep zero contact with their previous manager.

Managers Hesitant 

Whilst the sentiment may be there from professionals, it seems the same cannot be said for managers – in fact 46% admit to being hesitant in allowing an old employee back into the team, with just a fifth stating that they would consider it if they had been an ‘exceptional employee.’

Suzanne adds: “I’m afraid managers and employers need to swallow their pride here. In what continues to be one of the most candidate short markets we have seen in decades, the idea that a pool of talent is open to joining your company should be music to your ears.

“Not only that but this is talent that can hit the ground running – they have already been inducted into your business, they will be familiar with processes, and have a previous vested interest in the brand – all qualities which can take years to instil.

“In light of this research not only should companies who are looking to hire consider reengaging with alumni, but they should also look to train managers on holding a positive exit process as ‘boomerang employees’ could well be a solution to your skills shortage.”