Also, not all former employees should be boomerangs; workers returning to previous employers should be the cream-of-the-crop high performers, according to Almeda. "This is not an entitlement. You have to make sure that the people returning have created a solid history of contribution and success and are adding value above and beyond what they did before," he says.
Familiarity with an organization's culture is one of the biggest benefits to hiring boomerang employees, according to the survey. Thirty three percent of HR professionals and 38 percent of managers agree that familiarity with the organization's culture is the biggest benefit to hiring back former employees, with nearly a third appreciating that boomerangs do not require as much training as a brand new employee.
Many organizations consider these boomerang employees as a known entity, both with the skills they have and that they are a fit with the culture. "Boomerangs are about as close to no risk as companies can get," says Almeda. In some cases, he notes, boomerangs who've left your business for a competitor and then returned, or those who left to take a consulting role can bring back valuable industry information.
"Companies want to hire people who are less risky. If you have accolades, accomplishments, tenure and a good reputation even if you left the company, that makes you less risky to hire. You can be more easily trained, you're already comfortable with the culture and you can be productive almost on your first day," says Schawbel.
Sending the right message
As culture and engagement become increasingly important to businesses, boomerang employees offer another benefit: a morale boost. "When top talent leaves, your other employees get anxious and wonder why, wonder if there's layoffs coming, or if the company's not stable. But when talent returns, that sends a message that the workplace is a good one," says Dave Almeda, chief people officer at Kronos.
Have an alumni strategy
Companies looking to capitalize on boomerang employees should make sure to have strategies in place to maintain communication if a top performer leaves. While organizations appear increasingly more accepting of boomerang applicants, 80 percent of employees surveyed say their employers do not have a strategy in place to encourage them to return, and 64 percent say there appears to be no strategy for maintaining a relationship after workers leave.
"Technology and social media have made it much easier and more cost effective for businesses to communicate with alumni. Facebook groups, LinkedIn, email newsletters and the like are all free or low-cost ways to maintain that relationship with your former talent," says Schawbel.
HR practitioners say they use several strategies for keeping in touch with former high-performing employees; 45 percent of survey respondents use email newsletters, 30 percent frequently reach out through recruiters and 27 percent have formed alumni groups. Facebook is the platform of choice for alumni groups, according to 42 percent of HR professionals responding to the survey, with email and LinkedIn close behind at 39 percent and 33 percent, respectively.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.