It’s been more than a year since organizational psychologist Anthony Klotz predicted the Great Resignation, and that the Covid-19 pandemic would lead to pent-up resignations.
Since then, a record 4.5 million workers in the United States walked away in March 2022 alone.
But a new trend could be emerging — “boomerang employees.”
According to LinkedIn, they’re workers who “left their company under positive circumstances, but for various reasons they eventually decided to rejoin their organization.”
Such employees accounted for 4.5% of all new hires in 2021 — up from 3.9% in 2019, LinkedIn added.
A possible surge in boomerang employees this year could also be a side effect of the Great Resignation — as recent research from payroll firm UKG found that 43% of people who quit their jobs during the pandemic now admit they were actually better off at their old job .
Then there’s the economic downturn, which led to layoffs — most prominently in the tech sector, said Jennifer Brick, a career coach.
“For those who were lured away from steady jobs [to the tech industry]their compensation has been significantly reduced if stock was a major portion.”
She added, “Employees who are concerned about financial and professional stability are not just looking around for the best place, but looking back to former companies they have confidence in.”
CNBC Make It speaks to workplace experts on how you can get your old job back.
1. Speak to someone who knows your ‘quality of work’
The one advantage you have as a boomerang employee is the existing relationships you have, said Brick.
“You know who to get in touch with. Depending on your relationship you can ask them to have a coffee catchup, or simply make an ask by email.”
Brad Harris, a management and human resources professor at HEC Paris, added that you should pick someone that “knows your quality of work.”
“Maybe it’s a former boss or maybe it’s someone in a different department that you worked with on a cross-functional project.”
2. Explain why you’re better than before
To make sure that the reasons for your departure have been addressed or resolved, Harris advised, have an “exploratory conversation about what’s happening at the organization.”
“If it feels right, explain logically why you have been thinking a return could make sense. You need to be clear in explaining why you left, why a return would be different,” he added.
Most crucially, you should explain how and why you are a better employee since the original stint, said Harris, who has conducted research on boomerang employees.
However, he advised that timing plays an important role in the process.
“I’ll caution that sometimes they may need some time to work through their own feelings about bringing back an ex-employee, so in some cases you’re planting a seed that may take some time to bear fruit.”
3. ‘Plant the seeds’ before you leave
For Amy Zimmerman, the chief people officer of Relay Payments, the process of getting your old job back “starts before you leave.”
“When you do decide to leave, treat that separation and your actions that follow as supportive and as accommodating as possible,” she said.
“Having a solid relationship with multiple people at the company is important.”
Additionally, you should also “plant the seed” that you’d love to work with them again, said Zimmerman.
“That way if you do decide you’d like to return, you’ve already laid the groundwork.”
That will also help prevent the conversation from being awkward or “weird,” should you choose to return to your former workplace after a short time away.