When Duc Le accepted an offer for an official job, he was 23. After four years in the same employer, he referred to as “generous and fair,” a foreign company poached him. “It wasn’t mainly about the money,” he told Vietcetera. “I wanted to switch to remote work, and when the opportunity came, I couldn’t resist.”
However, after a year of basically working from anywhere. The Saigonese web designer considered returning to a more stable, reliable source of income, “somewhere I can actually see his progress and with people I can physically bond with.” So, he went back to his “first love,” and according to him, it felt like he had never left. He’s not back because of the money, but he is getting a higher rate now and leading a team that gives him a sense of “fulfillment and purpose.”
Duc Le’s views are similar to those of many other Vietnamese professionals. In fact, in a recent survey conducted by recruiter Robert Walters, it was found that Vietnam leads Southeast Asian countries in professionals being open to returning to their previous employers, with a staggering 78% expressing this willingness.
The study, encompassing nearly 1,000 professionals across six Southeast Asian countries, revealed that 34% of workers in Vietnam who left their jobs in the past two years did so for better pay and benefits. Another 34% left in search of better career progression.
Within Vietnam, 31% of local professionals admit they’d consider going back to their old jobs for better career opportunities. Additionally, 26% of local respondents (higher than the Southeast Asia average of 20%) would return if there were changes in leadership. Another 12% mentioned they’d consider returning for better pay.
This phenomenon is known as the “boomerang effect” in HR circles, but what exactly does that term signify? Essentially, the boomerang effect, as highlighted in the survey, reflects a rising tendency among professionals to return to their former employers. It points to a special kind of loyalty and a willingness to view past workplaces as potential career destinations.
In this survey, Robert Walters was able to capture two major key findings:
Staying Connected for Future Opportunities
A significant 91% of those surveyed revealed that they maintain some form of contact with a previous manager. One-fifth of respondents specifically mentioned that they do this to keep the possibility of future job opportunities open (20%). In the past two years, 33% of local professionals have actively reached out to a previous employer regarding job prospects. An additional 23% have not done so yet but have intentions to do so.
Managerial Openness to Rehiring
The sentiment from Vietnamese professionals receives positive acknowledgment from managers. Impressively, over 92% of managers in Vietnam express a willingness to consider rehiring former employees for suitable positions. A majority, comprising 78% of managers, are open to letting "good ex-employees" return. Another 15% are receptive to the idea, although they approach it with a degree of caution. Only 8% of surveyed managers, notably lower than the Southeast Asia average of 9%, state that they are not open to rehiring former employees.
Phuc Pham, the Country Manager at Robert Walters Vietnam, finds it intriguing that the primary motivations for this inclination are better career progression and changes in leadership, highlighting the emphasis placed on personal growth and a positive work environment.
“It’s not solely about monetary incentives; our professionals value meaningful opportunities and a sense of belonging in their career journeys,” Phuc added.
Turns out, Duc Le wasn’t the only one who prioritizes significant chances for growth and a feeling of connection above all else.
Acknowledging a slight slowdown in the global recruitment market in 2023, Toby Fowlston, the CEO of the global recruitment consultancy Robert Walters, points out the persistent challenge of candidate shortages. He underscores the excitement for leaders in having a pool of talent open to rejoining businesses.
“Not only that but this is talent that can hit the ground running – they have already been inducted into your business, they will be familiar with processes, and have a previous vested interest in the brand – all qualities which can take years to instill in a new employee,” said Toby.
He suggests that companies looking to hire should consider re-engaging with alumni. He advocates for training managers on positive exit processes, viewing “boomerang employees” as a potential solution to skills shortages.
A key thing for employers is managing the return of boomerang employees amongst existing workers – particularly if someone is returning in a more senior position than when they left. A balance needs to be struck and employers should assess that they are doing all they can to open up lines of opportunity within an organization, or they risk sending a message that one route to promotion and a better package is to take the boomerang route.