Pandemic-era job quitters return to previous employers

HR could learn a thing or two about how to snag 'boomerang' employees

Pandemic-era job quitters return to previous employers

A new study has revealed that employees are returning to their previous employers after quitting amid the pandemic — they are the so-called ‘boomerang’ staff and here’s what HR could learn from them. UKG’s report “Resign, Resigned, or Re-Sign? Pandemic-era job quitters and their managers wish they had a do-over” unveiled that that nearly one in five employees who left during the pandemic returned to their previous employers, with 41% of them considering such option.

These employees left because of various reasons, including family care matters, desire to move locations, and lack of flexibility, according to the report.

But what makes these employees come back to their previous employers? According to the report, boomerang employees said this is due to their managers:

  • fostering an environment where communicating frustrations was possible
  • making an effort to keep them
  • conducting at least one stay interview when they were previously employed there

“While it’s promising to see organisations open to welcoming back millions and millions of boomerang employees — even more than when we first studied it back in 2015 — leaders would rather keep their good people," said Dr. Chris Mullen, executive director at The Workforce Institute at UKG.

"Our data shows that it might only take one bad day or one bad experience for employees to start looking elsewhere in today’s job market. We must continue to build trust between managers and employees by conducting impactful one-on-one and career discussions and holding stay interviews to ask why happy employees remain before it's too late."

Read more: Should HR rehire ex-employees?

The study came after the same study reported that four out of 10 people who quit their jobs amid the pandemic admitted that they were better off with their previous employers.

"Jobs reports show that 47 million people quit in the U.S. alone last year, and our survey indicates that nearly half of those people feel they ended up worse off in their new job," said Aron Ain, chairman and CEO at UKG, in a statement.

According to these employees, they missed the following things about their previous jobs:

  • peers/co-workers (38%)
  • familiarity and comfort in the role (31%)
  • customers they served (22%)
  • compensation/pay (19%)
  • work-life balance (16%)

Commenting on this, Ain reminded that leaders and organisations do not own their workers' careers.

"If someone has an amazing opportunity for themselves and their family, great leaders will embrace the move and let strong performers know the door is open if they want to return. Great leaders should also never be blindsided by someone quitting," said Ain.

"With trusting relationships where people can comfortably communicate their true desires about life and work with their manager, they may not leave their job in the first place.

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