Are more tech candidates now returning to their previous employers?

There’s a phrase dominating recruitment headlines at the minute, and that phrase is “boomerang employees.” But, what does this mean? And how can employers use this to their advantage when planning tech recruitment strategies for 2022?

For the last few months, data showed that more people were resigning from their jobs than ever before, which was termed “The Great Resignation”. The pandemic forced employees to rethink what was important to them and whether their current employer could live up to new expectations. With the world of work changing rapidly, many employees had their eyes opened to flexible working, saw the most in-demand skills, and even had time to think about what’s important to them and where they wanted their career to go. Then with more jobs going to market every day, the post-pandemic jobs boom meant a lot more opportunities for employees within tech and knowledge-based industries to move elsewhere. 

However, rumour has it that these employees are now returning to the employers they left behind six or twelve months ago. They’ve explored their options and realised that the grass really isn’t that much greener on the other side, forcing them to make a return. As a result, these employees have been coined “boomerang employees”. Nevertheless, employers remain hopeful that the tide will turn and that workers will come back to their old jobs, industries and careers in the near future.

Technology and social media (most notably LinkedIn) have made it easier for employees to stay in touch with past teammates. Where previously, managers and employers would cut ties, the world of recruitment is now a lot more open, and these avenues of communication remain open. As a result, it’s no longer strange for employees to backtrack to an old job, provided the conditions are right. Therefore, employers are all holding out for “The Great Resignation” to turn into “The Great Return”.

The reasons for these returns will be as varied and as personal as employees reasons for leaving in the first place. Still, one thing is for sure; they present opportunities for employers to refine their employer brand and employee experience. While this stands a chance of attracting great talent back into your organisation, ultimately, it’s about improving their tech recruitment. So if you can entice previous employees to come back, you should appeal to new hires too.

Here are our tips for preparing for The Great Return and improving your talent acquisition strategies as you go:

Take a deep dive into your culture

There could be countless reasons employees left your organisation, but many of these will be rooted in your company culture. It could be that they were burnt out and overworked from the pandemic. They may not have been happy with management or may not have felt their voices were heard.  Research from Workable found that health concerns, toxic team members, poor management, low pay, burnout, lack of progression, or diversity and inclusion issues were among the top reasons workers have been quitting their jobs in the last two years. These are all factors that employers and companies can work to change.

Exit interviews may reveal the real reasons for employees leaving, and good employers will take this data to refine policies, invest in training and address any issues that may have come up. In addition, you can refine your EVP and work on your company culture to help future retention and entice back employees who quit in a spur of the moment decision. If you can address issues head-on to create a more positive, relevant and appealing company culture, then your employer brand will improve, and previous employees may return to you.

Implement your remote working policies

Many employees left their previous jobs during the pandemic because of their employer’s stance on remote work and flexible working policies. In the early days, it may be that employers still wanted their team in the office full time, and those who enjoyed flexibility realised other workplaces could offer this permanently. Now, we’ve had even longer to work remotely and flexibly; employers may have changed their minds. Or, It could be those newly-turned remote workers who haven’t seen their team in person before miss the team culture and social aspects of their previous role.

We’ve all established remote work is here to stay (in the industries where it’s possible), and employers should have firmly shown their stance on this by now. If you haven’t, it’s something you need to do. This will help your employer brand, employee retention and increase the possibility of returning employees simply because they now know where they stand. It’s fine to be fully remote, fully office-based, or a hybrid of both as long as you communicate it clearly. This will ensure candidates and employees (both past and present) know what to expect from your organisation.

Assess your benefits and compensation

We’ve spoken a lot about how the attitude to benefits in the workplace is changing. Employees don’t want pool tables. They want to be taken care of. Employers have always held power and could risk lowballing on salaries or offering weird and wonderful perks which look great on Instagram. Now, candidates hold power, and the tables have turned. Benefits need to enhance their lifestyle and solve real personal problems. This lack of tangible benefits or lower salaries may have been why some of your team left, but it can be addressed.

Market research can help you establish why people were unhappy and your competition’s salaries and benefit offerings. Therefore, you can adjust your perks to match up and take that more personalised approach.

Salary is a little more complex. You’d have to increase wages throughout the business if you were to offer returning employees substantial pay hikes. However, this is an excellent opportunity to check that your compensation is industry-standard, address pay gaps that may affect equality, and review any well-deserved pay rises. This will help your retention, ensure a more level playing field in the fight for new talent and hopefully, encourage employees who were otherwise happy back into your organisation.

So, is rehiring old employees the answer?

Boomerang employers could help hiring managers in a competitive talent market like the world of tech recruitment. Rather than facing the high recruitment costs that come with advertising a role, interviewing candidates and training new hires, rehiring ex-employees could be a cost-effective and strategic solution. They already know the business and the position you’re advertising, even if it isn’t exactly the same as the one they’ve left. This means employers will have to spend much less time onboarding them, and they’re already integrated into the team, so there’s no time wasted while showing them the ropes and introducing them to colleagues. But it’s often a good idea to rehire employees who’ve been away from the company for long enough that they’ve gained new skills and experiences they can bring back to the organisation. 

But is it always for the best?

If you think about it, these employees have left you in the past. This probably means they’re likely to do so again. Of course, the reasons they left may have been resolved as you refined your employer brand and EVP in the wake of the pandemic, but the likelihood is, if they’ve left once, they won’t hesitate to do so again. Loyalty means a lot in the recruitment market, and new hires may be more loyal to you than those who have left previously.

If you’re only trying to curb recruitment costs in a challenging market, more effective solutions could be available. For example, outsourcing your recruitment to an RPO provider can result in better quality hires and relieve pressure from your HR teams, making it a practical solution. However, if these employees are dedicated and hard-working, rehiring could work in your favour. 

Talent Works offer a flexible approach to tech RPO, which is suited to tech startups, scale-ups and even larger enterprises. It’s a risk-free approach to hiring. Our teams become embedded into your organisation, and we work as one to achieve your talent acquisition goals, relieving pressure from your existing talent teams or acting as your sole talent function.

We also build and refine EVPs based on extensive tech industry research to ensure that your organisation is appealing to tech talent and addressing issues that may be affecting retention or deterring employees from returning. Focus groups, data-driven analysis and many other methods are used to gain an authentic and holistic picture of what it’s like to work at your organisation. Then, pain points can be addressed and messaging reworked.

Contact us if you’re looking to refine your culture to entice talent back into your organisation or become an employer of choice for tech talent.

Talk to our experts to find out more about our RPO and tech recruitment services and our EVP and employer brand development.