Boomerang Employees – Why Do Some Workers Leave And Come Back?

Jo Caruana - 22nd December 2018

Going from job to job and then returning to your original company might be frowned upon in some industries, but much less so in iGaming.

“In our world, boomerang employees are also known as ‘comeback kids’”

Claudia Ginex is head of HR at Gaming Innovation Group (GiG), a tech company employing over 700 people. She explains that successful boomeranging stems from keeping doors open.

Claudia Ginex

Claudia Ginex

“In our world, boomerang employees are also known as ‘comeback kids’; they are basically employees that leave the organisation on good terms, only to make a triumphant return and blow everyone away with the knowledge and expertise they’ve gained since.

“Boomerangs can bring exceptional value to a company's growth. They know the culture, the products, and they are familiar with the overall vibe of the organisation. The relationship can be revamped quickly and they can be back to 100 per cent productivity and engagement in no time. Employers can also benefit greatly from the employee’s interim experiences, including their increased business network, technical knowledge and customer relationships.

Getting a boomerang employee is also a great sign of loyalty and trust to the company and, consequently, is an amazing opportunity for employer branding and retention strategies.

“From the employee point of view, coming back to a former employer has great benefits as well, as it means returning to a culture they know and appreciating new angles that they hadn’t noticed before. Plus they’ll have more experiences (good or bad) to compare it to. And of course, this results in a happy camper who feels part of the team and at home in the company, while understanding its vision and aspirations.

“Yes, there are challenges – mainly related to the off-boarding or exit process, and how best to handle the resignation of a key employee in the organisation. HR professionals should focus on the reasons for leaving instead of the leaving process itself. The golden rule should be: Leave all the possible future opportunities open, don’t burn any bridges and wish your people the best for their career aspirations, as they could well come back happier in the future, and bring their value on board as company ambassadors when they do!"

“In Malta, especially, it often feels like everybody knows everybody within the industry.”

Lena Nordin is chief HR officer of the Betsson Group, one of the largest companies within the European iGaming industry. Her message: if you’ve been part of the Betsson Malta story over the past 14 years and would like to return, get in touch!

“The iGaming industry is booming and, although it’s growing by the day, it still feels like a close-knit society. In Malta, especially, it often feels like everybody knows everybody within the industry. Some of the people working in gaming have been around since the early days, even before the industry went online. Betsson has a history that goes back 55 years: from a single slot machine to the global online business we are today.

Lena Nordin

Lena Nordin 

“We all know that employee turnover costs businesses a lot of resources – be it time, productivity and money. Even with strong recruitment and retention initiatives, some turnover is inevitable and we all have to respect when one of the top talents leaves for greener pastures. It’s difficult but that’s what the trend is nowadays – people change jobs and even career paths more frequently. We have to accept the reality that they leave to gain new experiences and new competencies.

“And this leads us to the nickname ‘boomerang employees’ given to those team members who leave but then, later, want to return. It’s a concept that is increasing considerably, especially in industries that are still somewhat close-knit, like the gaming industry in Malta.

“At Betsson, we’re a bit of a talent factory. We have a knack for finding and recruiting really good people. Being as big as we are, we can offer great career progression within the company, but it’s completely normal that, at some point, people may want to broaden their horizons. Having the number of boomerangs that we do shows that this is nothing to be afraid of. On the contrary, it is something to cherish. The grass may seem to be greener elsewhere, but being away from Betsson for a while can also make you appreciate our company and its many advantages even more.

“Boomeranging can be an advantage for both the employee and the employer, because the employee is already familiar with the organisation and can hit the ground running on their return, so to speak. Although things constantly evolve at a company such as Betsson, some things remain the same. As a returnee you’d probably recognise the company culture and leadership style, as well as some tools and processes. This means that on-boarding a former employee is less expensive and time-consuming than a brand-new employee, and it also ensures that there is a fit between the employee and the company. Another advantage is that boomerangs often bring back fresh ideas, new industry skills and also have a larger network of contacts. Meanwhile, one of the biggest – albeit indirect – benefits of rehiring a former employee is that it shows company loyalty. It’s proof to the boomerang’s colleagues that, while the grass may appear greener on the other side, it’s often not.

“But of course, there are challenges too. First of all, not all former employees are good re-hires, especially if things ended badly the first time around. In these instances, both parties should have a proper conversation about it and decide whether it’s best for both to proceed or not.

“Moreover, if the company culture in which you work does not put the experience of its employees first and sees them as individuals with their own specific needs and wants, then they’ll probably struggle to create a good environment for boomerangs. We don’t have that problem since we know that we offer ample opportunities for a person to grow and develop professionally with us. This shows, not least, in the high number of internal recruitments we do for our open positions.

“At Betsson we believe that great people know great people. Some 22 per cent of our hires over the past 11 months were actually referred to us by Betssonites. When you love the place you work, it’s no wonder that you want to recommend it to a friend or former colleague. In fact, whether you’ve worked for Betsson in the past or know someone who would fit in well, we’d love to hear from you.”

“There is a slew of benefits to be enjoyed when an employee returns to a company.”

Ben Pace Lehner is director of the Broadwing Job Placement Agency, a company with an excellent reputation for placing people within the iGaming and tech industries. His clients have mixed opinions on boomeranging.

Ben Pace Lehner

Ben Pace Lehner

“Boomeranging has a lot to do with personal development; sometimes people leave because they want a different job or a salary boost, others make the change because they want to travel or further their education, before returning to their original company. Occasionally, employees are also let go because the company can’t afford them anymore, and are then hired again when it can.

“In my experience, it is hard to say whether boomeranging is frowned upon or encouraged as this varies a lot between organisations, between departments, and even between specific roles within the same company. We at Broadwing confirmed this by reaching out to different HR managers and personnel within some of the bigger companies in the industry, and we found it often came down to the personal preferences of senior and HR management.

“That said, there is a slew of benefits to be enjoyed when an employee returns to a company after a period of absence. The first and most obvious is that they are already accustomed to the company culture and operations, so they require a much shorter orientation and on-boarding process. This allows them to hit the ground running – relying on their previous experience and connections, while adding a new perspective and more knowledge gained in their time away. This effect also helps bolster the image of the company, as it is often a sign of a strong internal culture, good working conditions and a company that employees can be proud to work for.

“On the flip side, however, while the on-boarding of a former employee is usually a good experience, it may also cause distrust and uncertainty between co-workers – especially if their previous departure was sudden and burdensome to the other people in their departments. Beyond that, current employees may feel alienated if the person who returned did so on a better salary or in a higher position. But this can all usually be tackled by the employer in advance and handled properly. In short, if things are properly managed on both sides, then boomeranging can be mutually beneficial.”

This article originally appeared in iGaming Capital

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