It is widely recognised that certain groups of our society have greater barriers to entering the workplace than others. These are based on factors such as age, disability, sex and sexual orientation, amongst others. However, a group we do not consider in the same way, but can find equal difficulty, are professionals who have taken a career break.
One way of addressing this and supporting this group of professionals, would be for more companies to implement returnship programmes. Returnship programmes serve to provide higher level professionals with a bridge to getting back to more senior roles after an extended career break. They are professionally-paid short-term employment contracts, typically of 3-6 months, with a strong possibility of ongoing employment at the end of the programme. Participants work on commercially significant projects based on their skills, interests and prior experience, whilst gaining a supported route back to a professional role.
How do retrunship programmes benefit employers?
- Access to a high-calibre diverse talent pool
- Focused attention on a business-critical issue
- A low-risk opportunity to assess a potential employee’s suitability for a permanent role
- Seen as a forward thinking employer
For the programme to be most effective, coaching/training and mentoring support is provided to the returner, both at the induction phase and during the programme. Returnships are used by a returner to update skills, knowledge and experience in their previous sector/role, or possibly to transition into a new sector.
Although very popular with many American companies, far fewer British companies are implementing them with the same enthusiasm. I’m a firm believer this needs to change. I’m sure many of you have either been in the position of being a career breaker or know someone close to you who has taken a career break. What do you think the best way of accommodating the transition is?