71% Of Candidates Consider Returning To Previous Employer

Move over “The Great Resignation”. Recent studies show that the new trend in recruitment is “The Great Regret” which somehow sounds even worse. We did an article at the start of the year on recruitment trends to look out for in 2023 but can’t predict them all. Being a recruiter is like a crazy ride full of highs, lows and surprises.

What is “The Great Regret”?

In 2021, more than 47 million people quit their jobs, kicking off the movement now known as The Great Resignation. Fast forward to this year, 80% of them regret their decision, according to a study conducted by Paychex. We all know the honeymoon phase comes to an end eventually, but in this job market, it can’t be saved by some chocolates and flowers. Plus, the reasons for candidates regretting their move are mostly outwith any recruiter's control.

The most common reason respondents regretted quitting was that they quit without a job lined up and the market has been difficult. But what’s surprising is the number of people who want to return to their previous employer. 

A poll from recruiter, Robert Walters, cites 45% of workers who quit after lockdown were looking for a higher salary - with a further 35% leaving for better culture and a more fulfilling role. Now, 48% say they’re not satisfied with their current employer with 24% saying the cost-of-living crisis and hybrid-working fatigue have made them realise the grass isn’t much greener on the other side.

The key findings in the poll were:

  • 71% considering returning to previous employer
  • 25% have already reached out to previous employer
  • 49% say original reasons for leaving are no longer relevant e.g. purpose, pay and flexibility
  • 48% say their current employer doesn’t meet their needs
  • 25% claim cost-of-living crisis has changed how they feel about their current employer
  • 82% keep in touch with previous employer with a third saying they would like to keep the door open
  • 11% have not kept in touch with their previous employer, but intend to reach out

However, managers seem to have a different sentiment with 44% hesitant to allow an old employee back into the team. Only a fifth would consider it if the employee was exceptional.

What can recruiters do about this?

Lots of recruiters are guilty of inadequate aftercare after they’ve been paid, but if you want to get ahead of 'The Great Regret', you need to keep in touch with your candidates.

Hopefully, you’ve built up a good relationship where they can be totally honest with you, so check in with them even if it’s been a year or two. There’s a fine line between regret and fear of the unknown, and in the world we’re living in now, who isn’t a little bit anxious about their future?

Listen to and acknowledge any questions they have. Sometimes it just feels good to get something off your chest and they’ll value your professional opinion and advice. If the job really isn’t a good fit for them, you can work closely with them to find something more suitable to their needs but before that, work with the candidate and the client to find out what can be done to help.

Better yet, get ahead of the issue before it arises. It looks like The Great Resignation isn’t going anywhere, so when you’re at the interview stage, ask your candidate “What does success look like?”. Even if a candidate is unhappy in a role, the only reason they would be unhappy with you as a recruiter after being placed is if you promised something you couldn’t deliver. Keep a note of their success criteria and even if they don’t like the job you’ve placed them in, you have delivered what was promised and can maintain a bond with them and make you who they reach out to if they decide to move on.

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