As LeBron James proved this week, sometimes you can go home again. And, the Cleveland Cavaliers aren't the only ones who might benefit from giving former employees a second chance. It might be good for your business, too. That's the finding of two studies co-written by a University of Illinois expert in organizational behavior and human resources management.
The research revealed that many businesses are proactively recruiting and rehiring former employees as a way to offset high turnover costs and hedge against the uncertain process of socializing replacement employees.
T. Brad Harris, a professor of labor and employment relations at the University of Illinois, said that, ideally, these so-called "boomerang employees" already understand the key components of the organization's work structure and culture, which makes them less-risky hires than newcomers.
"In addition to understanding the organizational culture, returning employees might also be more committed to the focal organization upon their return because, in essence, they've learned firsthand that the grass isn't always greener on the other side," Harris said in a statement.
The first study, which was published in the summer issue of the journal Personnel Psychology, discovered that the experiences encountered by boomerang employees are distinct in several ways.
"After surveying and interviewing hundreds of employees, we were able to see that boomerang employees were more likely to originally leave an organization not because of dissatisfaction with the job, but because of some personal shock, such as a pregnancy, spousal relocation or an unexpected job offer," Harris said. "Somewhat unexpectedly, we also found that boomerang employees, compared to nonboomerang employees, typically had shorter original tenures with the focal organizations."
To better determine how differences across boomerang employee experiences affect employees' re-employment performance, researchers examined a sample of boomerang employees in the National Basketball Association in a second study.
The research found that re-employment performance was significantly predicted by the harmony of the original tenure, and their success during the time spent away and conditions of the return. Harris said this suggests that not all boomerangs are created equal and that when evaluating potential boomerang hires, organizations should first consider these employees' previous performance histories at the focal organization and at their most recent employer.
"Second, organizations should be mindful that employees who originally left on good terms and of their own volition might be better suited for a return than those who left more acrimoniously," Harris said. "And finally, employees who are not gone for very long might possess more of the desirable attributes of boomerang employees, such as accurately recalling the organizational culture and understanding the social norms expected in it."
The original study was co-authored by Stacie Furst-Holloway of the University of Cincinnati, Benson Rosen of the University of North Carolina and Abbie J. Shipp of Texas Christian University. The current research, tentatively titled "Employees on the Rebound: Toward a Framework for Boomerang Employee Performance," was co-authored by Richard Gardner of Brigham Young University, Joseph Liu of the Georgia Institute of Technology and Brian Swider of Georgia Tech's Scheller College of Business.
Originally published on Business News Daily.