Boomerang employees on the rise, with three quarters open to returning to pre-Covid employer

Over three quarters of professionals (79%) have stated that they are open to returning to their pre-Covid employer – with half admitting that the reasons as to why they left are no longer applicable in today’s market.

According to a recent poll from recruiter Robert Walters (of +3,000 Canadian professionals), 44% of workers who had left their job after lockdown did so for better pay – with a further 34% leaving for a better workplace culture or an organization that has more appealing company values.

Fast-forward two years later and 48% of professionals admit that their current employer is no longer meeting their needs – with a third stating the cost-of-living crisis and hybrid-working fatigue (24%) has changed how they feel about their most recent employment situation.

“The post-pandemic bounce back saw record numbers of employees leave their job in what was billed as ‘The Great Resignation.’ However, our research indicates the first signs of ‘The Great Regret’ – with 79% of professionals stating that they would like to return to their pre-Covid employer, a mere 18 months after leaving,” says Martin Fox, managing director of Robert Walters Canada. Across 2021 we saw record pay rises offered to professionals, with promises of an Uber flexible and hybrid culture. Come 2023, and these pay rises now pale in comparison to the rising cost of living and inflation – with those new starters who were offered inflated salaries being much less likely to have received a pay increase this year. It appears that workers are realising that the grass may not have been greener after all.”

75% of those surveyed admitted to staying in some form of contact with a previous manager – with almost a quarter stating that this was for the primary purpose of keeping the door open for future job opportunities (20%).

In fact – almost a quarter of professionals (23%) have admitted to reaching out to a previous employer in the past year regarding job opportunities, with a further 13% stating that they have not done it yet but intend too this year.

With the sentiment clearly there from professionals, it seems the same can also be said for managers – in fact 95% admit that they would consider hiring a previous employee for a role they are currently recruiting for, with only 6% of these employers saying they would consider but with caution.

“The Canadian market continues to grapple with a talent shortage, and so boomerang employees could well be a solution for many companies,” says Martin. “This is talent that can hit the ground running – they have already been inducted into your business, they will be familiar with processes, and have a previous vested interest in the brand – all qualities which can take years to instil in a new employee.

“In light of this research not only should companies who are looking to hire consider reengaging with alumni, but they should also look to train managers on holding a positive exit process as ‘boomerang employees’

“A key thing for employers is to manage the return of boomerang employees amongst existing workers – in particular if someone is returning in a more senior position than when they left. A balance needs to be struck and employers should assess that they are doing all they can to open lines of opportunity within an organisation, or they risk sending a message that one route to promotion and better package is to take the boomerang route.”

Is this the solution to Canada’s talent shortage? 95% of managers open to ‘boomerang employees’

  • 79% considering returning to pre-Covid employers after realising ‘grass wasn’t greener’
  • 95% of managers would considering hiring a previous employee
  • 23% admit to having already reached out to previous employer
  • 49% admit original reasons for leaving – purpose, pay & flex – are no longer relevant
  • 48% claim that current employer no longer meets their needs in current climate
  • Quarter admit cost-of-living crisis has changed how they feel about current employer