The Great Reshuffle is underway. Two-thirds of workers are looking for new jobs, and 88 percent of executives are already seeing higher turnover than usual.

Voluntary separations are occurring for any number of reasons, and some have little or nothing to do with your organization. Some people are struggling with caregiving responsibilities or other pandemic-related stress. Some people don’t want to go back to office-based work. Some may decide to retire. 

And over time, some of those people may decide to come back. For instance, caregivers may be more likely to come back to the workforce after the pandemic subsides or becomes endemic. Remote workers may miss the camaraderie of office-based work, or your organization may decide to offer flexible work arrangements after realizing how important it is for retention. Retired workers may realize they weren’t ready for a full transition and want to come back in a more limited capacity. 

It’s very possible that the Great Reshuffle will be soon replaced by a wave of boomerang employees who want their old jobs back. Here’s what your company can do to make the most of this trend.

Facilitate a smooth transition when team members resign

Turnover is a natural phenomenon in the employee lifecycle that allows you to bring in fresh experience, perspectives, and ideas. It’s also an opportunity for your team members to gain new experiences, perspectives, and ideas elsewhere. Facilitating a smooth transition can help both organizations and outgoing team members begin the next part of their journey on better footing.

1. Hold an exit interview to learn why the team member is leaving

Exit interviews are a great way to identify internal issues that may lead to turnover. They may also identify an individual’s motivations for leaving, so you know what it might take for them to come back in the future. For example, if a team member leaves because they don’t agree with your return-to-office plans, you might want to reach out with an opportunity if your organization later decides to offer remote work options. 

Use your exit interviews to ask what the team member liked and disliked about working at your company, and what you could have done differently to encourage them to stay. Also ask about their satisfaction with things like opportunities for advancement, their relationship with their manager, recognition, compensation, and benefits. 

Then use that feedback to make improvements that help retain the rest of your team, and possibly encourage your former team members to return.

2. Offboard gracefully

It’s so important to make sure that a team member’s last interactions with your organization are positive ones. This will increase the chances that they contribute to a positive sentiment for your employer brand, refer candidates to your organization, and possibly return as a boomerang employee.

Ask if there’s anything you can do to make them stay. A counter-offer, promotion, or manager change could help you retain great talent if those options are feasible. If not, accept their resignation, wish them luck on their future endeavors, and let them know they’re always welcome to come back. You might even add a nice touch by sending them off with a gift, team-wide gathering, or a handwritten note expressing gratitude for their contributions.

A great employee offboarding program will maximize your employee lifetime value by leaving a positive, lasting impression during this transition.

3. Keep in touch with former team members

Help your former team members maintain a connection with your organization after they’ve left. For example, create a newsletter or Alumni group on LinkedIn or Facebook to share company news, job openings, and Alumni events. This may help your company stay top of mind when former employees begin looking for new opportunities, or when they have a friend or family member who is. 

You may also reach out one-on-one to see how former team members are doing, or to share a new opportunity that you think would be a good fit for them.

Re-engage team members when they come back

When former employees decide to come back to your organization, make sure to provide a warm welcome that helps them feel they’ve made the right choice.

1. Re-onboard boomerang employees

A great employee onboarding program can help set your team members up for success—and boomerang employees are no exception. Make sure they’re introduced to their team, have clear goals, receive feedback early and often, and have frequent check-ins with their managers. 

You may change your onboarding process here and there for boomerang employees, depending on how long they were away and what’s changed, but it still needs to be informative and engaging.

2. Stick to your promises

Your boomerang employees left for a reason—and they came back for a reason. Make good on your promises so you don’t destroy a good relationship. For instance, if a retired team member agrees to come back part-time, make sure you’re respectful of their availability and time commitment. If their projects slowly creep closer to full-time work, they may decide to leave again for good.

3. Develop boomerang employees

Common reasons for turnover are lack of career advancement and compensation. Create development plans that show boomerang employees that they can have a long-term career at your company with increases in responsibility and pay over time. Promotions are also an excellent way to recognize team members for their contributions, and improve employee engagement in the process.

Final thoughts on the Great Reshuffle

Former employees can be a great source of high-quality candidates because you’re already familiar with their past performance and culture-fit. But it would be easier and less disruptive to your business not to lose them in the first place.

Do what you can to reengage your team members before they find a new opportunity or resolve to leave the workforce. The best way to do this will be unique to your own team, so send an employee engagement survey to find out what your team members need. Find out whether team members feel valued and appreciated for their contributions, whether they have a good relationship with their managers, and how they feel about compensation and benefits. Use this crucial feedback, as well as feedback from exit surveys and employer review sites, to make improvements.


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