Interview. Get Hired. Get Onboarded. Get Trained. Get Promoted. Exit.

Welcome to the new employee journey, where you can, in fact, come home again. "Boomerang employees"--people who return to a company they had previously left, the most famous of which is undoubtedly Steve Jobs--made for the #1 spot in the 2016 Workplace Trends Report. We've actually seen this trend already manifest itself at LivePerson, where in the past year we've welcomed back several key employees.

In what is now modern folklore, Jobs left Apple in 1985 following a power struggle and eventually returned as CEO to lead it to the powerhouse it is today. During his transitionary period, he admits, he felt a bit aimless. But after he returned more than a decade later, he always insisted that "getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter into one of the most creative periods of my life."

Beyond our company's personal experience, there is obviously a bigger shift in both the employee and employer mindset when it comes to boomeranging. We asked Dan Schawbel, partner and research director at Future Workplace, the research firm behind the "Workplace Trends" study, why doors are being reopened--and why people are okay entering them. "Boomerang employees are being embraced much more in corporate America than in years past, because people switch jobs more, and it's easier to maintain connections with alumni online," said Schawbel. "Executives should embrace boomerangs, because they had already fit into their corporate culture. They can save money on job advertising, and it's cheaper to train them."

The business reasons are aplenty. But, as an executive, there are some questions you should consider when evaluating if a rehire is the right decision. Employees leave for a reason, and not always for the right one. These questions can help guide your decision whether or not to re-welcome a comeback employee.

Do they embody your culture?

A company's culture is unique and does not suit everyone. Case in point: Our culture is about "creating meaningful connections," so if an individual doesn't like to join forces with others to make things happen or isn't keen on revealing their personal side, they probably aren't going to do well here no matter how skilled they are at their job. Ask returning employees what they missed about the culture and be transparent about what might have changed since they've left. I often like to say that a work relationship is not unlike marriage--you have to share the same values for it to be successful.

Did they sow their oats?

Employees leave for all sorts of reasons--to explore different industries, to go back to school, to travel the world, etc. Are they coming back to your company fulfilled, eager, and, most importantly, focused? A person can be coming back to home base richer for their experiences or, on the contrary, left with a wandering eye.

Do they share your current vision?

If you're an innovative company, your business strategy has likely evolved since the employee last worked there. At our company, we continue to evolve our product and vision to get ahead of where our customers and their customers are going, and the vision today is far more ambitious and exciting than even a year ago. Make sure rehires are all in and passionate about your new vision and that they'll quickly get on board with where the business is going.

Do they carry baggage, and/or do you?

Not everyone leaves on a high note, and, unfortunately, sometimes time doesn't heal all pain. You also need to take into account the current state of the union. Has the team been reorganized to accommodate the departure? And are they working more efficiently? Boomeranging can be a sensitive subject, and everyone should be on board before you make things official.

Of course, the boomerang employee is mostly an exception rather than the norm. But don't be so quick to rule it out for your business. The star alumni that have rejoined our team have brought a new sense of enthusiasm and trusted leadership to our company, while reinforcing our culture. How have returning employees driven your business in the past year?

Published on: Dec 3, 2015