Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff is hiring again–with a particular focus on ‘boomerang’ employees: ‘It’s okay, come back’

 Salesforce is hiring (again) after laying off about 10% of its staff earlier this year—and its former workers are being encouraged to apply to the company’s 3,300 new roles across sales, engineering, and data cloud.

“Our job is to grow the company and to continue to achieve great margins,” the cloud software company’s chief executive Marc Benioff told Bloomberg. “We know we have to hire thousands of people.”

Speaking at the company’s annual conference in San Francisco, the co-founder also said that many of the new hires will be former Salesforce workers who have gone to pastures new (for now)—aka “boomerangs”. 

And he’s not sleeping on the task at hand: Benioff, the American billionaire who also owns Time magazine, reportedly revealed that he recently rehired senior workers from Snowflake and Twilio who previously worked at Salesforce. 

Now, attracting boomerangs is a new success metric for the company with Benioff even outlining that his tactic to poach former staff has so far included hosting an “alumni event for people who are employed in other companies to say—it’s okay, come back.”

Salesforce’s bounceback after layoffs 

The new hires restore 40% of the headcount that was slashed in January when Salesforce cut around 8,000 jobs in an effort to boost profits. 

“The environment remains challenging, and our customers are taking a more measured approach to their purchasing decisions. With this in mind, we’ve made the very difficult decision to reduce our workforce by about 10%, mostly over the coming weeks,” Benioff wrote in an email to staff at the time.

He blamed the layoffs on overhiring during the pandemic when tech companies were experiencing a boost in profits before the economy took a turn for the worse. 

But now, the company—which just posted better-than-expected results in Q2—is betting on artificial intelligence to further grow its bottom line.

While it’s unclear which roles at Salesforce were made redundant earlier this year, around a third of the new hires will be working on the company’s data cloud product. 

The San Francisco-based company recently introduced Einstein GPT, a generative AI tool aimed at enhancing sales, marketing, and customer service agents’ efficiency. It’s also actively developing a myriad of other “GPTs,” according to a Salesforce blog post, including Sales GPT, Service GPT, Marketing GPT, Commerce GPT, Slack GPT, and Tableau GPT.

“We have some very successful parts of our business right now, and we want a surge in those areas,” its chief operating officer Brian Millham told Bloomberg.

It comes just a few months after Salesforce’s subsidiary Slack announced it was looking to hire a “significant number of new roles” in Q3 on the product development engineer team, in a memo viewed by Fortune—with these roles set to be focused on generative AI.

Salesforce didn’t respond to Fortune’s request for comment.

Boomerang workers are on the rise 

It’s not just former Salesforce workers who are being tempted to go back to their ex (employer)—”boomeranging” is on the rise across the board.

Numerous studies show that businesses have seen a surge in former staffers reaching out and reapplying for the jobs they quit, having regretted jumping on the Great Resignation bandwagon.

Payroll company Paychecks surveyed American workers and found that 80% of employees who left their jobs during The Great Resignation now regret it. Meanwhile, UKG’s research across six counties similarly found that 43% of people who resigned admitted they were better off at their previous employer. 

In the end, both studies revealed that only about a quarter of employees returned to their previous employers but that’s not for a lack of trying—a whopping 68% of respondents in the former study attempted to get their old jobs back.

Most Americans don't trust companies when it comes to AI.

An August Gallup survey asked people if they trusted businesses to use AI responsibly. The majority, 79%, said either "not much" or "not at all."

The consulting firm conducted 1,014 phone interviews with US workers over the age of 18 across different levels of employment to compile the results.

Only 21% of respondents said they trusted businesses with AI "a lot" or "some."

Researchers also found that trust was consistently low across subgroups of the population, including when broken down by age, gender, and race.

CEOs have been keen to show they are on top of generative AI trends since the release of OpenAI's ChatGPT, but worker anxiety around the new tech has been high. Several companies have already moved to incorporate the tech into their workflows to boost productivity or, in some cases, cut headcount.

The generative AI wave has been seen as a threat to jobs after some CEOs praised the tech for its potential to replace workers. AI-powered products have improved quickly in the last year and can be used to produce impressive lines of code and prose, as well as hold convincingly natural conversations with humans.

Gallup researchers found that 22% of respondents were worried technology would make their jobs obsolete. This represented a rise of seven percentage points compared with 2021's findings.

The researchers said the rapid development of generative AI technology "may be changing the stereotype of what computers can do in the workplace."

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