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A boomerang with many happy returns

“For employers, hiring former employees who left on good terms is a no-brainer: They know their past experience and assume they picked up some new skills to bring to the table during their time away.” – Robyn Melhuish, Business Insider.

What brings a former employee back to an organisation? I’m about to rehire a team member who left our business about a year ago. We parted on good terms: She gave appropriate notice, maintained a strong work ethic, designed and delivered a transition plan, which assisted me to replace her with a new hire who is now one of my top performers.

While there will always be a need to source externally and same role/same needs/same company vacancies are relatively unusual, we’ve had a number of people return to Slade Group at various times in their careers, myself included.

As reported in Forbes, people move on for all kinds of reasons: to further their career, to take advantage of an opportunity or to accommodate a change in personal circumstances. That said, there’s nothing wrong with welcoming back someone who left your company after a long period of service simply because they wanted to try something different.

It might surprise you that in a US Workplace Trends Survey of 1800 HR professionals, “While only 15 percent of employees said they had boomeranged back to a former employer, nearly 40 percent said they would consider going back to a company where they previously worked.” And why wouldn’t they if you’ve got a strong employer brand, a clear employee value proposition (EVP) and the culture of the organisation is a good fit?

Here are the key benefits to boomerang hires, as identified by careerrealism.com:

  1. They’re a known entity – boomerang employees have a well-known track record with your company
  2. They’re easier to train – if they’re already familiar with your company’s operations and its unique processes, they can start contributing and producing sooner
  3. Their turnover rate is lower – they know what to expect from you and your company and knowing what else is out there, they chose to come back
  4. They provide a competitive advantage – they may have gained significant insights from their time working at another company in the same industry or a different market sector

If you choose to rehire, career site Monster recommends taking the time to introduce a boomerang employee to your business as if they were a new staff member. Whilst it might take a little while to get re-accustomed to the flow of things, you can counter some of the initial awkwardness on both sides by briefing them on new projects and establishing clear expectations from the start.

I’m looking forward to our ‘new’ starter.

Have you successfully boomeranged someone as a hiring manager? Have you made a successful return to a previous employer?

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Are you a badger or a fox?

There’s no way to dodge the digital evolution. Like winter, it’s a’coming. Our foxes know a little about a lot and badgers know a lot about a little. As organisations riding the tsunami wave of digital integration, we need badgers and foxes onboard. Those solid badgers with their deep knowledge and the agile foxes with the run of the landscape make for a healthy workplace environment.

You can probably pick the badgers from the foxes, but even the experts struggle to define digital and what qualifies subject matter experts varies greatly between organisations. The digital enabled workplace is here for you whether you’re a talented specialist with deep technical expertise or the generalist with a broad view of all areas of your organisation.

This week Slade Group brought business leaders together for a boardroom lunch to discuss Our Workplace and this Digital Economy. We presented the findings of The Australian Slade Digital Skills and Salary Survey 2015, which was the result of a year-long process conducted by Sweeney Research and involved 150 business from a broad range of sectors. At our table, executives representing banking & finance, consumer, education, professional services, marketing & advertising, news media, software development, and industrial provided some amazing insights on the digital knowledge and capability of Australian’s at work.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by new technology, take heart. We heard even the experts find it hard to keep up. In fact business is struggling to keep up with consumers, who are ahead of the game in entertainment, buying behaviours and their social networks, often at home with multiple devices watching TV, shopping online, and interacting via social media all at once! Is getting up at 5am every day or working 80 hours per week the answer? It’s ironic that the technology designed to simplify our lives has made it infinitely more complicated, while we’re drowning in electronic noise.

The Slade survey clearly indicates a digital skills shortage will affect the competitiveness of Australian companies if we don’t act now. While others play catch up, some businesses are sourcing talent from overseas. An increasingly agile global workforce presents further challenges. Taking an open door approach is one solution to higher mobile amongst technical specialists. It’s better to train someone who leaves, than not train someone who stays.  Innovative approaches, such as encouraging employees to pursue overseas opportunities, remaining connected to alumni and fostering a culture where ‘boomerang’ hires are actively pursued are some of the solutions our participants explored.

Education and upskilling is certainly required to keep pace. Typically this is occurring organically in SMEs, who have less resources available for training. Opinion in our boardroom was changing job descriptions and roles titles are make recruiting digital talent difficult. Universities cannot change course content quick enough to capture the latest digital trends. Meanwhile, the new generation of digital natives need to be nurtured from school towards Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) if we want to improve capability as well as see diversity in our organisations in the future.

When you’re building your digital team, let alone general teams, you need to be sure you’re hiring the right people. You’ll need some badgers and a few foxes. Making sure you have the right tools to assess digital talent also takes a subject matter expert.

How is your executive addressing the digital gap? What about your Board? What strategies have you implemented to future-proof your business?

Please contact me, Sally Powell, to find out more about Slade’s research and to receive a copy of The Australian Digital Skills and Salary Survey Report.

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