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27% Increase in Boomerang Hiring since 2019

Posted by: Karen Booher on September 21st, 2022

Companies often have a definitive opinion and stance on the topic of “Boomerang Employees”. However, in contrast to decades past, more and more firms today are happy – or at least much less reluctant – to take back their old employees.

The continued challenge of finding good employees certainly is a contributing factor to the increase in boomerang hiring. Companies are also becoming more progressive in their recruiting policies and have moved beyond feeling “slighted” by employees who had previously quit.

In the 1.5 years since the start of the full-blown COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an exodus of many employees for varying reasons – layoffs and furloughs, resignations to stay home with children doing remote learning or to care for elderly parents.

Now, with more and more employers requiring their staff to return to the office, some employees have chosen to look for other employment where they can continue to work fully remote or hybrid, or where the benefits offerings suit the needs of their family better.

Boomerang Employees – 27% Increase from 2019

In the first quarter of 2022, 4.2% of all new U.S. hires for companies that advertised jobs on LinkedIn were boomerangs, compared to 3.3% in 2019, the social media firm reported. This represents a 27% increase in companies hiring their former employees.

The increase in boomerang employees is telling of the economic ambiguity of the moment. In early August 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the U.S. labor market added 528,000 jobs in July, surpassing forecasts more than twofold. Yet just the week prior to this announcement, data showed that the U.S. economy shrank for a second straight quarter, amplifying concerns about a recession.

Amongst these conflicting reports, employees and employers continue to be locked in a standoff over perks, pay, remote policies, and flexibility. The pandemic has caused workers to reflect and reconsider what the meaning of work is, and what is important to them.

Boomerangs vs. Non-Boomerangs

Catherine Shea, Assistant Professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business, co-authored a 2021 study on returning employees. They analyzed two groups of employees at a U.S. professional services firm: workers who had boomeranged, and similar workers who had never left.

They found that boomerangs were paid more but performed on a similar level as employees who stayed. Thus, boomerangs come with a cost to the employer. They also found that boomerangs tended to spend more time on long-term projects, which might benefit firms because it indicates they have a deeper level of commitment to the company.

Another study conducted by John Arnold and his team at the University of Missouri found that boomerangs tend to change little between their first and second tours of the company. They examined about 30,000 boomerang and traditional employees over eight years. In general, those who performed well in their first stints also performed well in their second, and likewise for underperformers.

The Age-Old Question:  Should you Hire Boomerangs or Not?

This was the question we posed in our June 2021 blog, “Should You – Or Shouldn’t You – Rehire Former Employees?”, which listed the pros and cons of boomerang hiring. Today, our conclusion is very inconclusive – maybe yes and maybe no!

What is important when considering rehiring a past employee is to carefully evaluate why they left the first time. If it was dissatisfaction with upward mobility, concerns about management, or poor cultural fit, those issues may not have changed in the interim. On the flip side, salary, benefits, and other non-monetary perks are all issues that can be solved, within reason.


ASA Staffing Today, Aug. 19, 2022. “’Boomerang Employees’ Are Going Back to the Old Jobs They Quit”, by Charlie Wells, Bloomberg. August 18, 2022.

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