by Tom Snee
A recent survey of workers finds that many who left their jobs in the great resignation now regret quitting and some would return to their old employers if they could.
But what can they—and their employers—expect if they do? For most, it will evoke the adage “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” Chad Van Iddekinge, a professor of management and entrepreneurship in the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business, studies these so-called boomerang employees and says most people who return to an old job find themselves in a similar circumstance.
For instance, in one study, Van Iddekinge looked at managers working in a national chain of retail stores and compared the performance of new hires, internal promotions, and boomerangs. The study found that the performance of boomerangs is largely consistent with the level of performance before they left.
Van Iddekinge said this differs some from the conventional wisdom, which is that people gain experience when they leave for a new job and come back better than before.
Other findings from Van Iddekinge’s studies include:
—Hiring a boomerang is less risky than hiring someone new because they will be a known commodity.
—Boomerangs require less onboarding and training and can more quickly contribute to the business.
—Returning employees are more likely to perform better in some jobs, such as those that require more internal coordination.
Despite those advantages, boomerangs don’t necessarily outperform new hires. In fact, he says new hires tend to learn new aspects of a job more quickly. Van Iddekinge also said that if an employee left for performance-related reasons, those will likely still be an issue when they return. Boomerangs are also more likely to leave more quickly than other types of employees, suggesting that if an employee leaves once, they’re more likely to do it again.
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