At this point, I think we’ve all heard about LeBron James’ recent decision to rejoin his former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers. While his homecoming is a relatively rare move in sports, it’s beginning to happen more and more often in the professional world.

Here at SHIFT, we place a high value on employees “pulling a LeBron” and returning to the Agency. This boomerang hiring, as it’s more commonly referred to, is something we actively encourage and promote to all of our SHIFTers. It’s become a unique part of our agency culture and a definite pride point for us across our three offices.

To give you a better idea of boomerang hiring and its role here at SHIFT, we’re presenting a two-part Q&A series featuring our HR Director, Leah Ciappenelli, and one of our account directors, Katie McGraw, who boomeranged back to SHIFT in January.

In the first installment in the series, Leah gives us her take on the initiative and how it’s benefited both the Agency and the five SHIFTers who’ve come home in recent years.

Does SHIFT have a formal boomerang hiring policy in place?

We do not have a formalized initiative. We’ve started calling it “homecoming” in recent months, but haven’t coined an official term. In most cases, exiting SHIFTers are told the door is always open and if they are ever considering returning, we are open to the conversation.

What kinds of conditions make for a successful return?

The most optimal condition is when a SHIFT alum sees an opening and proactively inquires. In most instances, a former employee has maintained contact with one or several folks at SHIFT. Through these relationships, conversations emerge that the former employee may be interested in returning. If and when they want to make the discussion formal, HR will get involved.

What specific qualities do you look for in a potential boomerang hire?

We consider the following questions:

  • Were they an employee in good standing when they left?
  • What are the circumstances under which they want to return?
  • Are their skills relevant and will they add value to the current team or department?

Five SHIFTers have boomeranged back to the Agency in recent years. What can employees like them bring to the workplace?

Returning SHIFTers bring back a diversity of perspectives and experiences that are important for the continuous improvement of SHIFT.

What benefits does the employee gain from returning?

First-hand knowledge of the organization’s culture, clients and processes facilitate an easier onboarding. In terms of more formal benefits, here at SHIFT their previous tenure counts towards ESOP vesting schedule, vacation accruals, sabbatical and professional career path advancement.

Why is boomerang hiring important in an industry like PR?

The talent market is tight and competitive. At times, it feels like every agency is going after the same talent. When someone returns it’s a positive mark in regards to loyalty in addition to the obvious advantages of them knowing the organization and being able to ramp up quickly.

What advice do you have for employers looking to rehire former employees?

It’s about relationships. When someone leaves they should be treated well. In some organizations, an employee can be made to feel guilty. We try to celebrate the adventure that they are about to embark upon and be genuine in helping them understand that if there’s a point in the future that they want to return, we are open to it.

What advice do you have for employees contemplating a return to their former workplace in addition to those like LeBron who have recently rejoined?

Start the conversation with someone who you trust within the organization. Remember that the organization has grown and evolved since you were there, so it is important to be open-minded. While the place will certainly feel familiar, there will be elements that feel very different. Roll with it.

Zach Burrus
Marketing Analyst


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