When Your Millennial Employee Leaves And Wants To Come Back

The new generations in the job market have a much more fluid relationship with their employer. How should HR respond?

More and more millennials are deciding to "take a break" from their careers to find themselves
Verónica Carabajal

BUENOS AIRES — Should organizations let employees who resign return? What example would that give, and would it encourage others to leave? Should we reward a certain lack of commitment? These are some of the questions one hears in debates inside and among organizations in the working world, particularly in human resource departments.

The discussion is prompted by the increasing number of young people who decide to "take a break" in their careers in favor of personal experiences elsewhere, often an extended trip of self-discovery. Without wading into a discussion about what is or isn't "right," it's worth reflecting on some common starting points.

There is every reason to suppose they will be more loyal.

First, we should recall that any young person who leaves a job was initially selected to enter the firm, which means a presumed good fit within its organizational culture. Good employees who leave take with them not only their basic human skills and aptitudes, but also the investment the employer made with respect to their recruitment, learning curve and professional training.

For some, a semi-prolonged trip can be an opportunity to gain new experiences and even boost their ability, perhaps, to manage unfamiliar situations, make autonomous decisions or handle diverse cultural environments.

Given the above, young people who seek to return to previous employers could be coming back personally enriched and with unique life skills. There is every reason to suppose they will be more loyal, as they are choosing to return to their country and your firm after exposure to diverse environments.

Yet, enterprises are divided on whether or not to reopen the door.

Young people won't stay put despite the negative consequences Photo: Tim Gouw

Many believe there should be no coming back. But as a personnel consultant working for 20 years with challenges relating to talent, development and employment brands, I have to disagree. Preventing a return a priori means leaving someone with a good profile and experience — assuming, crucially, that they left on good terms — to the talent market. How long do we think it would take for a competitor to recruit that person?

One fundamental insight we have learned about generations Y and Z is that these young people do not think about staying forever in the same organization. As such, we'd be mistaken to think that a young person contemplating this type of experience would reconsider because of some "exemplary" action taken against a colleague who'd done the same thing earlier. There are good arguments against welcoming back certain departed employees, but I don't think firms can justify discarding talent they themselves helped develop just to "teach people a lesson."

Think of the new generation more as job consumers, and less as candidates seeking a job for life.

A young person's decision to resign is not always based just on pros and cons. Certainly, there is always room to help them reflect and make sure they are choosing a course while considering all variables. This is an exercise many HR professionals and even immediate bosses have done with young employees who have mentioned resigning. Indeed, conversations in a context of trust and good intentions create some unexpected space for mentoring in these very kinds of situations.

Finally, if we start to think of new generations more as job consumers, and less as candidates seeking a job for life, we might reflect on the following: Nobody would think of "teaching a lesson" to customers by stopping them from buying your product again, and forcing them to buy from competitors. Marketing people are paid precisely to find ways of bringing clients back after they have stopped buying your brand or products.

Many might see this as a debatable analogy, but it is also a creative way of viewing candidates and employees. As we know, many firms have started working with the concept of "employer branding" as a strategy, seeing this as a key to the future of HR management and recruitment.

From that perspective, we might reflect that the right move for firms is to view candidates as a consumer to be seduced and retained (for lack of better words), and for whom we would always keep the door open.

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A tribute to the 30,000 Iranian political prisoners murdered in Iran in 1988

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Hannah Steinkopf-Frank and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Laba diena!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where Afghanistan's Taliban demand to speak at the United Nations, China takes a bold ecological stand and we find out why monkeys kept their tails and humans didn't. Business magazine America Economia also looks at how Latin American countries are looking to attract a new generation of freelancers known as "digital nomads" in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.



• Taliban ask to speak at UN: With global leaders gathered in New York for the 76th meeting of the UN General Assembly, Afghanistan's new rulers say their country's previously accredited United Nations ambassador no longer represents the country, and have demanded a new Taliban envoy speak instead. Afghanistan is scheduled to give the final intervention next Monday to the General Assembly, and a UN committee must now rule who can speak.

• Four corpses found on Belarus border with Poland: The discovery of bodies of four people on Belarus-Poland border who appear to have died from hypothermia are raising new accusations that Belarus is pushing migrants to the eastern border of the European Union, possibly in retaliation over Western sanctions following the contested reelection of the country's strongman Alexander Lukashenko. The discovery comes amid a surge of largely Afghani and Iraqi migrants attempting to enter Poland in recent weeks.

• China to stop building coal-burning power plants abroad: Under pressure to limit emissions to meet Paris climate agreement goals, China announces an end to funding future projects in Indonesia, Vietnam and other countries through its Belt and Road initiative.

• Turkey ratifies Paris climate agreement: Following a year of wildfires and flash floods, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced at the UN that Turkey will become the last G-20 country to ratify the emissions-limiting accords. Turkey already signed the agreement in 2016, but has yet to hold a vote in parliament.

• Mass evacuations following Canary Islands volcano: More than 6,000 people have fled the Spanish archipelago as heavy flows of lava have buried hundreds of homes. Four earthquakes have also hit the Canaries since the Sunday eruption, which could also cause other explosions and the release of toxic gas.

• Rare earthquake hits Melbourne: The 5.9 magnitude quake struck near Melbourne in southern Australia, with aftershocks going as far Adelaide, Canberra and Launceston. Videos shared on social media show at least one damaged building, with power lines disrupted in Australia's second largest city. No injuries have been reported.

• The evolutionary tale of tails: Charles Darwin first discovered that humans evolved to lose this biological trait. But only now are New York scientists showing that it was a single genetic tweak that could have caused this shift, while our monkey relatives kept their backside appendages.


"The roof of Barcelona" — El Periodico daily reports on the latest delay from what may be the longest-running construction project in the world. Work on the iconic Barcelona church La Sagrada Familia, which began all the way back in 1882 as the vision of master architect Antoni Gaudí, was slated to be completed in 2026. The Barcelona-based daily reports that a press conference Tuesday confirmed that the deadline won't be met, in part because of delays related to COVID-19. Officials also provided new details about the impending completion of the Mare de Déu tower (tower of the Virgin), the first tower of the temple to be completed in 44 years. Although it is currently the second tallest spire of the complex, it will become the highest point of the Sagrada Familia, reaching 172.5 meters thanks to an illuminated "great cross."


Latin America, the next mecca for digital nomads

Latin American countries want to cash in on the post-pandemic changes to the fundamental ways we work and live, in particular by capitalizing on a growing demand from the new wave of remote workers and "youngish" professional freelancers with money to spend, reports Natalia Vera Ramírez in business magazine America Economia.

💻🏖️ Niels Olson, Ecuador's tourism minister, is working hard to bring "digital nomads" to his country. He believes that attracting this new generation of freelancers who can work from anywhere for extended visits is a unique opportunity for all. Living in a town like Puerto López, he wrote on Twitter, the expat freelancer could "work by the sea, live with a mostly vaccinated population, in the same time zone, (enjoy) an excellent climate, and eat fresh seafood." For Ecuador, the new influx of visitors with money to spend would help boost the country's economy.

🧳 While online-based freelancers already hopped from country to country before COVID-19, the pandemic has boosted their current numbers to around 100 million worldwide. The Inter-American Development Bank estimates there could be a billion roaming, digital workers by 2050. Some European countries already issue visas for digital nomads. They include Germany, Portugal, Iceland, Croatia, Estonia and the Czech Republic, but in the Americas, only four countries make the list, namely Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Panama and Costa Rica.

💰 In August 2021, Costa Rica approved a law for remote workers and international service providers, intended to attract digital nomads and make its travel sector more competitive. The law provides legal guarantees and specific tax exemptions for remote workers choosing to make the country their place of work. It allows foreign nationals earning more than $3,000 a month to stay for up to a year in the country, with the ability to renew their visa for an additional year. If applicants are a family, the income requisite rises to $5,000.

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$2.1 billion

Google announced yesterday it will spend $2.1 billion to buy a sprawling Manhattan office building, in one of the largest sales of a building in U.S. history. The tech giant plans on growing its New York workforce to more than 14,000 people.


It is sickening and shameful to see this kind of president give such a lie-filled speech on the international stage.

— Opposition Brazilian congresswoman Vivi Reis in response to President Jair Bolsonaro's inflammatory 12-minute speech at the UN General Assembly. The unvaccinated head of state touted untested COVID-19 cures, criticized public health measures and boasted that the South American country's environmental protections were the best in the world.

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Hannah Steinkopf-Frank & Bertrand Hauger

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