Say Hello to the Sibling of Internships: Returnships

Posted by on Oct 12, 2016 in ComLead, Organizational Leadership

Long gone are the days of traditional life paths for men and women. Now women can work AND have children, men can be stay at home dads, we have more opportunities than ever to work remotely or with flexible schedules and now one more is being added to the list- Welcome Returnships!

Returnships are aimed toward men and women who decided to leave the workforce for a personal reason (most often this applies to stay-at-home moms) and now are looking to get back into the game.  They are very similar to internships in the sense that participants are given high-level assignments and contribute directly to the business in a meaningful way. Big companies such as Sara Lee, Goldman Sachs, and J.P. Morgan have created such programs in exchange for the major benefits of attracting these individuals.

So what are these major benefits? For starters, these professionals bring a “level of maturity and experience not found in younger recruits.” These programs allow employers to find the best of the best from this talent pool and convert them to full-time hires. Tami Forman, executive director of Path Forward, states clearly that re-entry programs for professional women who have taken career breaks serve a dual purpose: “they advance gender inclusiveness and fill the leadership pipeline with experienced and exceptional people.”

The use of these programs is supported by research from the Harvard Business Review which shows that 43% of “highly qualified” women with children take time off to be with their families.  Nearly all women (93%) who have “off-ramped” their careers are eager to return to work full time, but only 40 percent successfully do so.

While these programs tend to be aimed more at women, they should not be gender exclusive. As mentioned earlier men are starting to make decisions to be stay-at-home dads and these programs are just as beneficial for them.  For full effectiveness programs should be equal-opportunity. Returnships don’t have to be formal either. It can be a mindset. If your company isn’t looking for a formal program then this idea can be incorporated into the recruitment strategy. Think of new ways to attract these types of candidates.

There is a whole pool of extraordinary talent out there ready to jump back into their careers headfirst.  The idea of Returnships is a new and extremely beneficial development in the workforce and companies that incorporate these ideas will surely reap the benefits.

To read more about re-entry programs click here.

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