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More Than Three Quarters of Employees Open to Returning to Pre-Covid Employers

Many employees are experiencing ‘The Great Regret’ with previous jobs


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According to a recent poll from recruiter Robert Walters of more than 3,000 U.S. professionals and employees, 44 percent of workers who left their job after lockdown did so for better pay, with a further 34 percent leaving for a better workplace culture or an organization that has more appealing company values.

Two years later, 48 percent of professionals admit their current employer is no longer meeting their needs, with a third stating the cost-of-living crisis and hybrid-working fatigue 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 percent of professionals stating that they would like to return to their pre-Covid employer, a mere 18 months after leaving,” says Peter Milne, managing director of Robert Walters North America.

Keeping a Foot in the Door 

Seventy-five percent 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.

In fact, almost a quarter of professionals admit to reaching out to a previous employer in the past year regarding job opportunities, with a further 13 percent stating that they have not done it yet but intend to this year.

Managers are Confident

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

“The U.S. market continues to grapple with a talent shortage, and so boomerang employees could well be a solution for many companies,” says Milne. “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 instill 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 employers.’”

He also adds, “A key thing for employers is to manage the return of boomerang employees among 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 organization, or they risk sending a message that one route to promotion and better package is to take the boomerang route.”

About The Author

Sophia is an intern for Well Defined. She is passionate about journalism and has focused on writing stories covering adoption, sports, and other topics as a staff writer and copy editor for her high school yearbook staff. She has achieved several high school journalism awards for her writing and has aspirations for a successful professional writing career.