UAE jobs trend: Why employees return to former employers

The study said companies can’t afford to 'forget' about talented employees in a competitive market


Waheed Abbas

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Published: Sun 12 Feb 2023, 8:54 AM

Last updated: Sun 12 Feb 2023, 9:15 AM

The practice of UAE employees returning to their previous employers – also known as boomerang employees – is fairly prevalent in the local job market for numerous reasons including a chance to renegotiate a better package, good relations with former colleagues and managers, and the potential of quicker promotion.

According to a Emiratisation Salary Guide and Hiring Insights 2023 released by recruitment specialist Michael Page, 36 per cent of employees said they would consider returning to their former company if the opportunity arose.

Recruitment and HR consultants say that boomerangs should be considered on case by case basis, and employees need to also carefully consider their decisions before going back to an old workplace as there are pros and cons involved for both parties.

The study said companies can’t afford to “forget” about talented employees in a competitive market who leave on good terms and who could be tempted to return if the opportunity arose.

“That’s why many employers now have return programmes that allow them to keep in touch with their alumni and, if circumstances allow, re-hire them,” it said.

Quit & Return: How UAE employees behave

  • 36 per cent employees would consider returning to their former employer if they get a chance
  • 57 per cent believe that returning to former employer is a win-win solution for both
  • 22 per cent have regretted quitting a position at least once
  • 75 per cent consider company culture is key when deciding to return
  • 43 per cent of employees quit job to get more responsibilities
  • 31 per cent applicants quit for career or sector change
  • 41 per cent resigned at least once in their careers without having a new job in hand
  • 22 per cent missed their former colleagues
  • 25 per cent said the new company was not what they expected

(Source: Michael Page, KT Research)

Waleed Anwar, managing director, Upfront HR, said workers returning to their former employers is definitely a trend at the moment, especially those who were let go or made redundant during or post-lockdown.

“It seems to be a convenient way of hiring for employers since the ‘boomerang’ is already familiar with the business and can hit the ground running with little or no training at all in some cases and jobs,” he said.

Why do employees return to their former employer?

Anwar believes that employees return to their ex-employers because it is always the easiest option if they are actively looking for work, or they may have had good relations with colleagues and managers in the past.

“It could also be that they liked the environment and location of work. There might be the potential of quicker progression or promotion because of previous work experience with old employers amongst other things,” he said.

According to Michael Page, some employees have aspirations and ambitions that simply can’t be satisfied by their current employer, hence, they leave the company.

Pros and cons

Steps companies can take to retain talented workers including fast-tracking their career development and offering improved compensation packages. “However, if an employee wants to change industries altogether or needs to leave for personal reasons, there’s little a company can do to stop them.”

From an employer’s perspective, Anwar added that the pros are in the reduced cost of rehiring an old employee and training them, returning workers will have all the required skill sets for the job in some roles, therefore reducing the cost.

“Returning employee comes back with fresh motivation and new ideas to bring to the company. As a returning employee it could be a fresh start, a chance to renegotiate a better package, connect with old colleagues and maybe even get a quicker promotion,” he said.

But the downside for employers is that returning employees come with a risk, there is always a question of whether they will leave or walk away again.

“By rehiring ex-employees, the company could miss out on fresh new talent or great new hires. And the same is true for employees, they could come back to a really different environment, they may get dragged into unwanted work drama from current employees etc,” he added.

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