Boomerang Employees: Can Returning Serve a Greater Purpose?
When LeBron James announced that he was leaving the Miami Heat to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, it sparked a flurry of discussions in HR departments everywhere about so-called “boomerang employees” – people who leave and come back to their old companies.
Benefits of Boomerang Employees
Reuniting with your former employer can have benefits on both sides. In the Allied Workforce Mobility Study (2012), companies reported that on average, it takes eight months for new employees to function at full productivity. Because you already know the culture and structure, you’re likely to deliver results much faster – a huge cost savings for the organization.
Corporations are even creating alumni networks on LinkedIn to keep tabs on top talent who left voluntarily or were displaced by economic downturns. If you had a good reputation and exited on good terms, don’t be surprised if you get tapped to come back as this trend becomes more accepted. The talents and skills you’ve acquired during your absence could position you for opportunities that were previously out of reach – and a paycheck to match.
Benefits Bigger than a Paycheck
LeBron James’ most meaningful reasons to go back to the Cavs had little to do with the team itself or even the compensation. Here are three purpose-driven reasons he cited for the decision – and why going “back home” could be your best career move, too.
For James, being able to raise his family near his hometown was desirable. Could returning to your old employer put you in an environment that’s healthier for you or your family? Consider the impact of your surroundings on your mental and emotional health, too. Working in a culture that doesn’t align with your core values can be more toxic than living next to an active landfill.
James spoke of his return to Cleveland as a calling that goes above basketball. “My presence can make a difference in Miami, but I think it can mean more where I’m from,” he said in an essay announcing his decision. “I want kids in Northeast Ohio, like the hundreds of Akron third-graders I sponsor through my foundation, to realize that there’s no better place to grow up. Maybe some of them will come home after college and start a family or open a business.”
Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald estimates that LeBron’s return to Cleveland will raise the team’s impact on the local economy by 25 percent to a whopping $500 million. The growth is attributed not only to projected jumps in ticket sales, but also the “multiplier effect” which increases spending in related industries.
Even if the work you do on a day-to-day basis feels mundane, what impact does it have on society as a whole? Embracing the purpose behind the work you or your organization does and not just your individual tasks can create a renewed sense of excitement when it comes to your career.
When James headed to Miami, it was about winning championships and securing his place in NBA history as one of the greatest players of all time. After two rings, he’s heading home to a young team that could take years to be a championship contender. But in his new role, he has an opportunity to mentor younger players and help them “reach a place they didn’t know they could go,” he said.
When your working years are over, how will the next two generations benefit from your contributions? True success isn’t measured simply by what you acquire for yourself, but by what you leave behind through the impact of your legacy.
Whether you’re evaluating a return to your former employer or any other career move, consider more than the compensation package. Choosing opportunities that align with your personal definition of success can deliver benefits that surpass your tenure in any company.