Finding the right talents to fill openings is getting more challenging for the last few decades. SHRM reported that late 2015 was the most difficult hiring period in four years. With the war for talent continues to emerge, companies keep raising the bar by offering competitive paychecks, benefits, perks, and good work environment.
So, how does an employer stand out from the crowd? While increasing benefits and improving work-life balance initiatives can help, there’s another strategy that HR can adopt to tap the best talents, returnship program.
After years of leaving the workforce to focus on raising her children and becoming stay-at-home mother, Samantha feels lonely as her kids are all growing up and busy with their college lives now. Then, she intends to reenter the workforce after 20 years of a career break. This movement is what we call as returnship.
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Returnship is a higher-level internship which is provided as a bridge back to senior roles for experienced professionals who have taken an extended career break. The program lasts for 3-6 months just like an internship in general. However, there is a strong possibility of an ongoing role at the end of the program. The initiative does not only help those who seek career opportunities without having to start from the ground again, but it is also beneficial for employers in terms of loyalty and experience.
Participants who take on commercially significant work based on their skills, interest and prior experience, can obtain a supported route back to a professional role without a fuss. Besides having returnees being loyal to the company for giving them the opportunity to come back, Hays survey showed that the returnship programme is one way ahead towards incorporating highly qualified and skilled candidates back into organisations. It also helps existing staff to establish a more diverse team dynamic. In three points, an employer can get these benefits:
Without the right mindset in regards to the company policy, it will be hard for HR and employer to implement this program. A returnship program does not work if workplace policies on recruitment and selection or job design are not geared towards diversity. Therefore, Dr Jo Ingold told Hays that it is about having the right mindset and it has to be supported with the right organisational infrastructure and policies.
Managers might be reluctant to hire individuals who have taken years of a career break, assuming that they are no longer work-ready. So, HR should properly educate and train managers to empowering the root out bias. In addition, flexibility and training are still important when developing the program. There is no one-size-fits-all method, however, especially when training those who have been away from work for two or ten years. Hence, HR should learn early on the importance of flexibility to meet the needs of the individuals who join you from returnship, Ingold advised.