Welcome Back? Job Performance and Turnover of Boomerang Employees Compared to Internal and External Hires

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Journal of Management

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Boomerang” employees are workers who leave an organization and are later rehired by that same organization. Although many organizations rehire former employees, only a handful of studies have examined this phenomenon. The present study uses a large, longitudinal data set to examine the performance and turnover of boomerang employees rehired into management positions (n = 1,318). Further, we provide some of the first comparisons between boomerang employees and two traditional sources of employees: external hires (n = 20,850) and internal promotions (n = 8,546). Evaluations of job performance before and after being rehired revealed that boomerang managers’ performance tended to remain the same—rather than increase or decrease—after being rehired. Furthermore, boomerang managers performed similarly to internally and externally hired managers in the first year on the job, but both internal and external hires improved more than rehires over time. Internal and external hires were also less likely to turn over from the organization than rehires. Finally, supplemental analyses indicated that boomerang managers who turned over a second time tended to do so for reasons similar to their initial turnover reasons. The overall results call into question some of the assumed benefits of rehiring and suggest that organizations consider factors such as the reason for initial departure, the time horizon of performance, and the availability of other types of hires before considering boomerang employees.


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