How Great is the Great Return

A young black man sits at a desk in front of an open laptop with his chin in is hand looking off in the distance thinking about something


The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many of us to work from home for the past two years. Now, as vaccination rates increase and restrictions ease, there’s talk of a “Great Return” – the mass exodus of workers from their home offices and back into the physical workplace. But this return to normalcy isn’t as straightforward as it may seem.

For employers, it might be cause for celebration, but there are some serious considerations to keep in mind. Rehiring former employees who left their jobs during the pandemic is one such consideration. While boomerang employees can be a valuable recruitment strategy, HR professionals advise caution. It’s important to understand why the person left in the first place and determine whether the same role is still the best fit for their skills and goals.

When discussing rehiring, compensation is also a key issue. HR executives need to consider whether they can afford the employee, whether their new compensation would impact pay equity, and whether they’re willing to enhance pay for others in comparable roles. These factors can influence how other employees perceive the company, so it’s crucial to address them carefully.

Changes in company culture and any problems that may have contributed to the employee’s initial resignation should be taken into account. HR professionals should be open and honest about the current situation and explore alternative options in case the employee decides to return. This could mean addressing toxic management issues or other problems that may have driven the employee away.

Rehiring previous employees can be a smart recruitment tactic, but it requires careful consideration. HR officials need to assess the fit between the person and the organization, and address any issues that may have contributed to the employee’s initial departure. By doing so, employers can reduce the risks of rehiring while also improving the experience for both the employee and the company.