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Boomerangs: What Both Sides Should Consider Before Working Together Again

boomerang employers

Boomerangs: What Both Sides Should Consider Before Working Together Again

After months of the “Great Resignation,” another workforce trend is developing – ”boomerang” employees, or those who are returning to companies they left.

In some cases, businesses are pursuing former employees to rejoin them; in others, ex-employees, either unsatisfied with a new job or having been on the sidelines a while, are seeking a return to their old workplace. The reacquainting process in interviewing and rehiring can mean some awkward moments, and for both company leaders and ex-employees, there are important considerations before deciding to work together again.

Boomerang employees can be a powerful force for your company if they come back for the right reasons. If they found the grass was not greener on the other side, a boomerang employee may be your biggest advocate on culture. They save companies time and money in the usual recruiting process and strengthen the business because they’re a known commodity.

And for returning employees, there’s often a renewed sense of appreciation for where they work and whom they work with. They feel more appreciated. But it can be dicey if issues that led to them leaving are still there.

Here are some tips for former employees when considering a return to a company, and also some advice for leaders when weighing whether to bring a former employee back:

For the returning employee

Do your homework. It can be a good thing to go back, but only if the company addressed whatever issues caused you to leave in the first place. If it was leadership, have they fixed that? It’s important to do your homework to find out what changes have been made that would encourage you to want to work there again.

Ask your employer the hard questions. Employees should feel comfortable asking tough questions, such as, “What steps have you taken to make sure I won’t dread coming to my job anymore? Why won’t you allow more people to work remotely? How have you improved the work culture since I left?”

Sell them on the benefits of rehiring you. New employees take both training and time to ramp up at a new job. When ex-employees pursue a job at their old company, they should emphasize their track record with the company and their familiarity with processes and people – strengths that save the company time and money to recruit and interview other candidates.

Be prepared for changes. The job the employee left may have changed, thus when that person returns to his former employer, they may be reporting to new people and using new processes. A real selling point about an ex-employee returning is that person embracing flexibility and having added skills that make them even more valuable. They should promote those while being prepared to view their old job with new eyes.

For the employer

Sharply focus interview questions to determine compatibility. Most importantly, the company needs to identify why the employee left the first time. Do those issues still exist? The leaders should ask specific questions related to the ex-employee’s recent experience and about their whys regarding returning. Have they added a new skill set that makes them even more valuable? If any prior issues with the company are resolved, does the leader sense a long-term commitment this time?

Don’t be desperate. Although numerous companies are struggling to fill open positions, it’s important that the company doesn’t get desperate because of hiring needs and welcomes back a toxic employee. As much damage as they did the first time they worked for you, it will be multiplied by 10 times if a high-performing employee watches the company bring someone back who underperformed and caused issues the first time they were there.

Don’t make it all about money. While many companies are increasing pay packages to find high-quality workers, that shouldn’t be automatic when welcoming back former employees. That could alienate other employees who stayed with the company and have not gotten increases. For the return engagement to work, it can’t all be about money and benefits. It’s important to find out what it is about their overall workplace experience that will help keep them there. Is it a more specific career growth plan, or working from home?

In the movies, they say the sequel is rarely better than the original. But the second time around can be better for boomerang employees and their employers, as long as both sides are upfront and appreciation is equal.


Eric Harkins ( is the president and founder of GKG Search & Consulting, a Minneapolis-based consulting firm that helps organizations acquire and retain top performers. He is the ForbesBooks author of Great Leaders Make Sure Monday Morning Doesn’t Suck: How To Get, Keep & Grow Talent. During his 25-year career in corporate America, Harkins has held leadership positions ranging from manager to chief talent officer and chief administrative officer. He is a motivational speaker, executive coach, and an expert in helping companies create a culture that high performers want to be a part of.

supply chain

How to Make Supply Chain Employees Feel More Invested in Their Work

Supply chain operations typically involve a lot of long hours and repetitive work. That can make it difficult for employees to feel invested in their jobs, leading to errors, lower productivity and burnout.

If supply chains want to optimize their operations, they can’t overlook employee investment. Here are eight ways that management can encourage their employees to invest more in their work.

1. Help Workers Reach Their Own Goals

One of the best ways to get workers invested in the company is to invest in them first. Management should start by helping employees define and pursue their personal professional goals. This will show that the company cares about their development and is willing to put effort into it, encouraging reciprocation.

This process starts with talking with individual employees to help quantify their specific goals. Studies show that those with defined goals are ten times more likely to succeed than those without them. After that, management can create progress charts to monitor growth, encouraging hard work from employees and pushing them to their full potential.

As workers strive toward their individual goals, they’ll become more invested in their day-to-day work. The company as a whole will benefit as a result.

2. Provide Paths for Upward Mobility

Another crucial factor for employee investment is career advancement opportunities. Just 29% of surveyed employees say they’re satisfied with their workplace’s opportunities for career advancement. If workers don’t have anything more to reach for, there’s not much reason for them to invest heavily in their performance.

By contrast, if there are plenty of paths for upward mobility, employees will have the motivation to work harder. Supply chain organizations can promote from within rather than finding outside hires for upper-level positions. That way, workers will know that they can work their way up, encouraging them to invest in the business.

3. Enable Lateral Movement

In that same vein, supply chain organizations should also enable lateral movement. In addition to being able to move upward, workers should be able to change areas or departments. This will help keep satisfied, productive employees if they decide they want a career change or to apply new skills.

Some workers may start to feel burned out in their current role but have skills and interests that apply to another. Letting them change jobs to work in another department could help them find work within the company that compels them. When employees can find the role that fits them the best, they’ll invest more in their job.

4. Reward Investment

Some strategies to help supply chain employees feel more invested are remarkably straightforward. By rewarding those who invest more heavily in their work, employers can motivate employees to do so. Management should establish a system for rewarding hard work, such as productivity bonuses or an employee of the month scheme.

Monetary incentives are particularly powerful, but they’re not necessary if they’re outside a company’s budget. In one survey, 37% of workers said that more personal recognition would drive them to produce better work more often. Recognizing professional and personal achievements, especially in front of others, can provide the encouragement employees need to feel invested.

5. Be Charitable

Another way to help employees feel more invested is to create a company spirit that they want to invest in. If employees can see how their work contributes to a cause they care about, they’ll be more willing to put more into it. Supply chain businesses can foster this by donating to charities or helping local organizations provide community services.

It’s important to ensure these efforts go beyond one-time actions. They should be ongoing, in-depth initiatives so workers know they’re contributing to meaningful change, not just a publicity stunt. For example, some organizations donate profits to education departments, as well as partner with education organizations. This broader but still unified scope helps make a more substantial impact.

6. Be Sustainable

Another way that companies can help employees contribute to things they care about is through sustainability. Since transportation is responsible for almost a third of all greenhouse gas emissions, supply chains often have considerable carbon footprints. Embracing sustainability initiatives can help make up for this and encourage more investment from employees.

Investing in electric vehicles or renewable energy infrastructure can help supply chain companies become more sustainable. As these efforts grow, workers will see that their efforts within the company contribute to a greener future. Publishing sustainability goals and achievements will help raise awareness and drive further investment from employees.

If possible, try to tie these directly to workers’ achievements. That way, employees will have more concrete encouragement that their actions lead to more eco-friendliness.

7. Organize Team Building Events

Even if companies follow other steps, employees will struggle to feel invested if they feel distant from their coworkers. Businesses can fix that issue by planning regular social events to help build a more communal spirit. When employees feel closer to their coworkers, they’ll feel more engaged at work, driving more investment.

These activities don’t have to look like traditional corporate team-building exercises. They can be as simple as an after-hours party where management provides food, drinks and activities. The more casual and less work-related these feel, the better, as that will help develop closer, friendlier relationships.

8. Listen to Employees

Finally, supply chain organizations should seek employees’ advice on what would help them feel more invested. If management doesn’t take the time to listen to workers’ feedback, the employees will feel undervalued and won’t put in as much effort. Employees may also have good insider advice for the company, so regular surveys can fuel ongoing improvements.

Workers should have an accessible, always available means of giving feedback. While 64% of HR leaders think such a tool is essential, only 20% have one in place. Creating an HR chatbot or comment box is a simple fix that will help employees feel valued.

It’s important to follow up on these comments, too. Asking for feedback won’t lead to any meaningful change if management doesn’t also act on it.

An Invested Workforce Will Drive Success

When supply chain workers feel more invested, they’ll give more to the company. They’ll be more productive, produce higher-quality work and foster more positive workplace relationships. In an industry that can easily become dull and disenchanting, those benefits are impossible to ignore.

These eight steps can help any supply chain business motivate and encourage its employees. They’ll invest more heavily in their work as a result.


It’s an Employee’s Market, Here’s How to Keep Them

Have employees ever had this much leverage?

Employers are struggling to fill jobs in the wake of “The Great Resignation.” There were a record number of U.S. job openings in June – over 10 million – as nearly four million Americans quit in that month alone, reflecting confidence they can find better positions and places to work.

Many employers are having to compete for workers by offering attractive signing bonuses, higher pay, better benefits, and remote work flexibility. But company leaders, whether they are trying to recruit top talent or retain it, must be cognizant that doing either successfully depends on much more than an attractive compensation package and big raises, says Kathleen Quinn Votaw, the author of DARE to CARE IN THE WORKPLACE: A Guide to the New Way We Work.

“The role of leaders in recruitment and retention has been changing,” says Quinn Votaw, CEO of TalenTrust, a strategic recruiting and human capital consulting firm. “People want different things from you now. A paycheck is not enough on any level.

“It comes down to work culture, and leaders set the tone for that. Leaders who hold onto outdated management styles like top-down control or distrust of anyone working from home will lose some of their best employees. Today, you can count on the fact that top talent is evaluating your values, leadership style, and your level of commitment to putting people first. These are the things that determine whether people stay with you or go.”

The global pandemic, Quinn Votaw says, has increased the importance employees place on work-life balance, more flexibility, and stronger connection with leadership. Deloitte’s 2021 Human Capital Trends report shows that many executives believe workers will gain greater independence and influence relative to their employers in the future.

“In this type of market, workers have a lot of leverage,” says Deloitte CEO Joe Ucuzoglu.

Quinn Votaw offers three ways for leaders to create a culture where workers want to stay and one that new talent wants to join.

-Emphasize communication and recognition. “When people feel underappreciated for their contributions, it’s impossible to have a positive employee experience,” Quinn Votaw says. Increasing recognition, along with prioritizing open and transparent communication, she says, “build the strong connections and trusting relationships that employees want most.”

-Nurture a healthy work-life balance. Putting a higher priority on productivity than the well-being of employees leads to disengagement, burnout, and turnover. Research by Robert Half finds that 70 percent of employees say they’ve been working on weekends and working more hours than they did before the pandemic, yet 51 percent of them worry that their manager doubts their productivity when working from home. “Who can blame them for looking for new opportunities in happier, healthier, more trusting work environments?” Quinn Votaw says. “Give employees manageable workloads and the flexibility to get the job done in a way that fits their life holistically.”

-Listen and take meaningful action. Quinn Votaw says turnover prevention boils down to understanding what your people need. “Employees have complained for decades that leaders are terrible at making needed changes in response to their feedback,” she says. “Today’s employees won’t put up with lip service. Act on their feedback quickly so they know you are listening and understand that they are valued.”

“People want leaders who listen to them, trust them, show patience and humility, and support and empower them,” Quinn Votaw says. “Retaining your talent means creating an amazing, positive, inclusive culture where everyone is paid fairly, appreciated, and able to grow.”


Kathleen Quinn Votaw ( is the CEO of TalenTrust, a strategic recruiting and human capital consulting firm. She is the author of DARE to CARE IN THE WORKPLACE: A Guide to the New Way We Work. Regarded as a key disruptor in her industry, Quinn Votaw has helped thousands of companies across multiple industries develop purpose-based, inclusive communities that inspire employees to come to work. Her company has been recognized in the Inc. 5000.


A Business Case for Servant Leadership Principles

Many managers, on getting promoted or hired into their leadership position, believe it’s their time to shine. They’ve risen through the ranks, the spotlight is on them and they may get to have their voice carry more weight than has been the case before. It’s an exciting step in their career progression, one that they may have striven toward for years.  

While it’s true that a new leadership position typically means higher responsibility and greater decision-making power, it doesn’t set a leader up for success to think the light should shine on them alone. The better leadership philosophy is not to be the person standing in the spotlight; rather, choose to be a servant leader, the one holding the spotlight and shining it on your team. 

Think to your own career — who have been the bosses you appreciated the most or who were the best at motivating your team to perform at its highest possible level? I imagine it was the ones who viewed themselves as holding a position of trust rather than a position of authority. That’s not to say that they abdicated the responsibility of their role; instead, they recognized that their success was ultimately tied to the success of their team and the best way for them to do well was to empower their direct reports.  

Becoming a Servant Leader 

A servant leader is someone who seeks to elevate those in their charge, producing results by supporting the development of the people they lead. If you want to be a great leader, commit to serving your employees: develop their skills and nurture their career growth. 

If your team is consistently learning and growing, it will get noticed — by your peers and by your superiors, as well as your own team. Fostering a culture on your team of continuous improvement will drive results beyond just the company’s balance sheet. It will also pay off in employee engagement and job satisfaction, retention, and even hiring.  

You might fear that investing in the growth of your employees is just asking for them to leave for a more challenging job. But while this is a realistic fear, it rarely plays out like that. 

When you develop engaged employees, you’ll find they are more present and productive — and engaged employees will certainly desire to advance in their careers, whether in your company or a different one. But if you want loyal employees who will go far above and beyond for you in their role, you must offer something in return. That “something” is assistance in getting where they want to go, realizing their career dreams. Even if the place your employees want to go is not necessarily what you would choosemake your goal to be the kind of leader who wants only the best for those who willingly follow. 

Three Steps to Success 

Easier said than done? Here’s are three simple steps you can take to empower your employees to thrive. 

1. Build a Culture: Your organization absolutely must have a culture of engagement. That requires a strong vision, ways for your employees to connect with that vision, and frequent opportunities for your employees to feel like they matter — to the organization, to the team and to you, their manager. The culture you build directly impacts your employees’ ability to thrive. 

2. Make a Connection: Draw a clear line between your employees’ work and the purpose and vision of your organization. A disconnect between people and purpose results in employees who don’t feel they don’t have a role in the larger picture. But when the connection is recognizedemployees will be driven to complete tasks — even the more mundane tasks — as they think about how and where they can grow with the company. 

3. Bring It All Together: When you can clearly articulate each employee’s role in achieving the company vision, they will be more fully invested in the organization’success. Look for ways to unite your team, whether through group training, team-building activities or something else altogether. Individually motivated workers who can enjoy working together collaboratively will drive your team to greater achievement. 

A manager must wear multiple hats, and it can be hard to balance the various responsibilities you bear. It’s up to you to get results from your team, to meet the goals you set and the goals that are set by your own bosses. But even so, remember that it’s not all about you. Don’t look at your team as a group of people who answer to you; rather, see yourself as the support system needed to help your team reach its potential. When you do, you’ll make an impact that goes far beyond the bottom line.

This post originally appeared here. Republished with permission. 


How World-Class Amazon, Apple & Google Have Built Successful Cultures

Every small business wants to be the next Amazon—or the next Apple or Google. Their products and services, as well as their growth and profit margins, are the envy of all. But it is their company cultures that drive their success. After all, without the brain trust and boots on the ground, those enterprises would have remained small and insignificant. Now, everybody wants to work for them. Why?

Their trendy work campuses capture headlines and imaginations, but location and environment are just veneers for the culture they contain. Yet, these headquarters are also extensions of brand. From Apple’s “spaceship” park to Amazon’s geodesic Spheres and Google’s playful Silicon Valley campus, the looks of these businesses reflect brands driven first and foremost by people-centric cultures.

It may seem skewed in priority to place workers before the actual work being done. But if we want to benefit from the lessons of these top organizations, we will focus on culture the way they do. As global competition for talent increases, this is the formula that works.

You can begin to build a better talent infrastructure by working on the seven “pillars” of good culture I’ve identified through researching leading companies. These include how organizations handle transparency, positivity, measurement, acknowledgment, uniqueness, listening, and mistakes. The examples of Amazon and friends, however, are worth studying in more detail. A few key techniques and best practices that these three amigos share warrant special consideration.

Transparency Is Clarity

The design of Amazon’s Spheres addition to its Seattle workplace campus is meant to inject nature into the business environment. But the glass-and-steel structure also embodies the company’s commitment to transparency. Three linked geodesic domes leave precious little in the dark—which is also the way to enable employees to do their best work.

Amazon, Apple, and Google use transparency in two major ways. First, they attract talent that aligns with their stated mission and values. They make these goals and guiding lights clear to all job candidates, weeding out of contention folks who won’t row with the crew. This creates a cohesive workforce that is dedicated to being part of the brand.

This both reveals and capitalizes on the companies’ uniqueness. They all stand out from the crowd. One way that our businesses can do this is to concentrate on hiring for a fit with our core values and a prevailing attitude. Using personality tests to assess potential hires for their inclinations and motivations can help standardize an otherwise subjective practice and get the right people in the right seats.

Second, these companies use technology to employees’ advantage. Access to relevant and accurate information is critical to their job roles, and these high-tech firms know how to centralize data. Amazon even launched a business service called the Transparency Program, which helps brand owners thwart counterfeiting and intellectual property theft.

But the retailer’s greatest wielding of transparency is most visible in its delivery services. Moving vast volumes of merchandise to their destinations requires an intricate web of logistics. Small businesses can imitate that command of information-sharing by giving workers open access to the details they need and the people in the company who can best assist them.

Positivity Is Power

One look at Apple’s massive, ring-shaped Campus 2 tells you how strong the tech giant really is. More than a mile in circumference, the structure’s powerful curved lines reveal something about the company’s working ethos. And any enterprise dependent on innovation would be wise to adopt the Apple staff’s positive mindset.

Because the business world is dynamic and markets fluctuate, many organizations find themselves reacting to problems and challenges rather than proactively getting out in front of them. That’s only a recipe for more of the same. Top companies like Apple and Google employ a positive approach to planning, pursuing goals, and solving problems called appreciative inquiry.

This model optimizes a team’s strengths while ferreting out less successful strategies that can tank morale. Appreciative inquiry adds a methodical element to what might otherwise be chaotic, and a means to innovate that could easily be squelched by negativity or repeated failure. It gives workers a sense of accomplishment, even when actual gains may be small.

The central technique involves four stages: discovery, dreaming, design, and destiny. This 4-D Cycle prompts teams to discover what is working for them, so they can preserve and expand upon it. Next, they dream big and imagine their ideal outcome. From there, they select a likely path and design systems or steps to move them forward. Finally, they do what it takes to achieve that destiny.

Becoming agile in this approach gives small businesses a way to break the cycle of putting out fires and watching morale sink. It sets a positive tone that can be echoed in every other area of planning and workflow. And it’s self-perpetuating: one accomplishment prepares the team for its next success.

Numbers Instill Confidence

Visiting Google’s eclectic California headquarters may seem like downing one gigantic energy drink, with something impish rushing around every corner. From fleets of brightly colored communal bicycles to a statue park of oversized sweets named after the company’s android inventions, the vibe is Google’s brand—and the brand is utterly self-confident. Here is a business that knows exactly who it is and why it exists.

This sense of definition extends to its talent. Most small businesses have only fuzzy outlines to their image. That’s because most of us allow culture to form rather than intentionally building it. Job candidates can sense this, and they will be drawn first to companies with strong, distinct personalities. Google, and other companies that cultivate the cultures they want, enjoy attention from people who want that too.

This begins with articulating a mission and vision that inspire. It continues through identifying the best-performing employees and attempting to attract more like them. Google does this via data collection and analysis. Having created the foundation, they could take a deep dive into assessing which parts of culture work best and why.

With a legion of employees, Google was able to conduct a two-year study with a decent sample size that showed them which psychological conditions are likely to coalesce with the company’s mission and values—not just to create a happy workplace, but to create the best support system possible in which to perform work. This is the essence of culture at its best.

Google’s study found that successful outcomes correlated to the satisfaction of certain human needs, foremost of which was psychological safety. Workers needed to feel confident in taking risks, free of judgment or possible sanction. This let them stretch and sometimes fail—but ultimately innovate. From this confidence stemmed other areas of fulfillment, such as being able to depend on coworkers and to clearly understand the company’s expectations of them, which also helped teams achieve their goals.

Revealing these key conditions and the high performance that resulted from them allowed Google to continue to monitor variables and outcomes for further insights. The numbers instilled confidence in how the company manages its culture, which in turn lets it promote those traits when recruiting talent. Along with Apple and Amazon, Google leaders have embraced culture as a way to draw the best people—and they never let their employees forget who it is that makes those organizations successful.


Leadership speaker Chris Dyer is a recognised performance and company culture expert, Founder and CEO of PeopleG2 and author of The Power of Company Culture (Kogan Page, 2018).