Talent shortage fuels rise of “boomerang” employees

New research from Robert Half reveals Australian companies are increasingly leaving their doors open to former staff members. Read more here. 

More than two thirds of Australian companies have re-hired a former employee

  • 65% of Australian employers have re-hired a former employee: 33% have successfully re-hired a former employee and 32% would not do it again
  • 87% are more accepting of hiring boomerang employees today compared to three years ago

New research reveals Australian companies are increasingly leaving their doors open to former staff members. According to independent research by leading specialised recruitment company Robert Half , almost two in three (65%) Australian companies have re-hired a former employee who left the organisation voluntarily. 

With 89% of HR managers saying they find it challenging to source skilled professionals, more than one in four (26%) organisations are open to the idea of employing former staff. Only 9% would not consider it.

Reinstating an ex-employee can have mixed results. Among the employers who have experienced the process, 33% say it has been a success while 32% would not do it again (32%). 

Amid an increasing skills shortage, willingness to hire former employees seem to be on rise with 87% of Australian companies saying they are more accepting of hiring boomerang employees today compared to three years ago.

Nicole Gorton, Director at Robert Half Asia Pacific said: “The current labour market is highly competitive for qualified candidates. Given the dynamics of a talent-short market, coupled with skills shortages in key areas, employers are increasingly considering re-hiring former employees – a trend we expect to see continue throughout 2017.”

“So-called ’boomerang’ employees can bring experience to a company’s talent pool as well as an intimate understanding of the business. That said, successfully re-engaging a former employee can call for additional considerations. An employer should revisit the circumstances of their departure to decipher whether they left on good terms, followed by a discussion with the ex-staff member to get a sense of their motivations for returning to their previous workplace,” said Nicole Gorton.

Key drivers to re-hire former employees
A successful track record is the main reason for re-hiring a former employee, cited by 56% of HR managers. However, almost half (46%) of employers say they would consider re-hiring an ex-staff member if they possessed skills and expertise that are hard to recruit for. Two out of five (40%) employers point to a reduction in the time and cost of onboarding former employees and 33% refer to a good cultural fit.

Australian HR managers were asked: “Why would you consider re-hiring a permanent employee who left the company voluntarily?” 

The employee has a successful track record at the company 56%
Skillset/expertise for the role is hard to find 46%
Reduced onboarding in terms of time and cost 40%
The employee was a good fit with the corporate culture 33%
The employee has new skills and can come back at a higher level 14%

Source: Independent survey commissioned by Robert Half among 100 Australian HR Managers – multiple answers allowed. 

Nicole Gorton said, “Keeping the door open to departing staff members can provide benefits that can go beyond tapping into the skillset and broadened experience of a former employee. Re-hiring a person who is already familiar with the company and its culture can significantly reduce the costs and time associated with onboarding, and ensure the employee is productive from day one. Losing good people is never easy, but it’s not a total loss if there’s an opportunity to bring them back later on.”


About the research
The annual study is developed by Robert Half and conducted in April 2016 by an independent research firm, surveying 100 Australian HR managers. This survey is part of the international workplace survey, a questionnaire about job trends, talent management and trends in the workplace.


Katherine Mills
Public Relations Manager, Asia Pacific
P: +61 2 8028 7757
E: [email protected]