Catch and keep: how to bring boomerangs back

Topics: recruitment strategy, recruitment budgeting, boomerang recruiting

Posted by Nancy Caputo on Feb 23, 2017 9:00:00 AM

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Nearly 70% of U.S. employees have either returned to work for a previous employer or are open to being a “boomerang” employee at some point in the future. In our last blog post, we discussed why companies should embrace boomerangs – employees who leave a company voluntarily only to be rehired. This week, we’ll cover some of the strategies you can use to catch those boomerangs – and keep them. Let’s get started.

Keep a database of people who leave in good standing. Similar to your Talent Network, place exiting employees’ contact information in a database for ongoing sharing of company news and new opportunities. You already have this information; use it to maintain the communication channel and demonstrate that your former employee’s contribution was valued.

Start before they’re truly gone. The right time to show your appreciation for a potential rehire starts the moment they leave. The last day of employment is critical to any successful boomerang campaign, and how you treat an employee when they leave makes all the difference. In fact, their last day presents a perfect opportunity for a simple gesture, such as a “Thank You” card signed by the CEO or department manager wishing them success and sharing that the door is always open. Timeliness is key, and the message should be personally delivered on the employee’s last day.

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Never bad-mouth an ex. This life edict applies to both leaver and leavee; it speaks volumes about both the character of your now-former employee and your integrity as an employer. Let’s put this in real terms: a relationship just ended. Although positive, it just didn’t work out. Maybe it was just poor timing, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t be friends. In fact, that’s a Healthy Relationship 101 signifier, and your recruitment strategy should follow suit.

Make it personal. People appreciate acknowledgement and they’ll remember the little things. Creative, out-of-the-box ideas include:

  • Send a note/flowers to their new job. One NAS client sent a dozen roses to the exited nurse on her first day of the new job with a simple “Wishing you much success!” message. Talk about a successful boomerang campaign!
  • Employ the power of video. This can work both ways. Offer the departing employee the opportunity to tape their exit interview (if they’re so inclined) as a way to reinforce that their perspective is important and valued. Another use of video: have the team and management record a personal “thank you” to the exiting employee. Make them feel important and that they will be missed, and be sure to share the video as a “thank you” for their service.
  • Make it worth their while. Our client, Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare, made an exceptional offer to boomerang nurses: those returning in less than three years will have their prior years of service and elements of the benefits package reinstated.

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Create alumni groups. If you haven’t set up an Alumni Group on Facebook or LinkedIn, you should. It’s a great way to stay in touch with former employees and let them know what is happening within your organization. When the employee is leaving, be sure to have their LinkedIn address so that you can invite them to join immediately. And keep the content updated and engaging via quarterly newsletters, alumni events, etc.

Stay on track and stay in touch. When considering your retargeting strategy, it’s important to develop short- and long-range communication efforts via continued, non-invasive follow-up at timely intervals; 30- 60- and 90-day+ follow-up via rotating communication channels that will keep your organization top of mind with top candidates:

  • Email
  • Postcard mailed to their home
  • Post-departure phone call from a recruiter
  • Company newsletter

Their first day back sets the tone. Be sure to welcome the boomerang employee on their first day back. Create excitement by decorating their work space, placing a welcome letter or note card signed by all team members and management, and having lunch delivered.

Boomerangs offer significant advantages over unfamiliar applicants, and smart companies are embracing the trend. Contact NAS to learn how your organization can attract this unique candidate.

Nancy Caputo

In her role as Account Director with NAS Recruitment Innovation, Nancy provides account management, strategic planning and consultation for her clients. With more than three decades of recruitment marketing experience, as well as a strong background specific to healthcare, Nancy has developed highly successful and cost-effective recruitment strategies for NAS clients such as HealthSouth, Crane Currency and many more.