Imagine how hard it can be to rejoin the workforce after being out for a few months or even years. It can be difficult to get a job with gaps in your resume. But what happens if you had to leave your employment to take care of a relative, have a baby or deal with something else that requires you to leave your job?
If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that the normal working world can change in an instant. It’s important to offer solutions to workers wanting to re-enter the workforce. One solution that is gaining popularity is the "returnship." Today, we explore what returnships are and how they can benefit your public sector organization.
The goal of returnship programs is to address the barriers workers face after being out of the job force for a few months or more. They acknowledge the skillsets that previously employed people have while helping them adapt to today’s working world.
Usually, the pay is commensurate to the employee’s experience level while providing mentorship and training to help them adapt to the pace of the workforce today and reacclimate to the workplace culture.
Many large employers like Intuit, Amazon, PayPal and Microsoft have started successful returnship programs to help people with gaps in their resume to return to work. The key is for agencies to develop a returnship program tailored to their business structure and job types. This means no two returnship programs are the same.
It’s difficult to re-enter the workforce if you’ve been absent for a while, especially in certain industries like tech. There seems to be a bias that people taking time away from their careers don’t have what it takes to succeed, but this bias is based on a myth. Many people returning to work have excellent work experience, are educated and add mature professionalism to workplaces. Fortunately, more companies realize that not everyone travels the same traditional career path.
It's important to consider that returning workers' needs are different than those of employees active in the workforce. They often lack the most up-to-date skills and aren’t as confident as they once were. They may also have additional commitments younger employees don’t have, so finding the right position for their needs can be challenging. Additionally, some jobs that didn’t require college degrees before may require them today, further reducing career opportunities.
Now, organizations realize that it’s beneficial to capitalize on these pools of diverse, qualified talent. It’s a win-win for both sides as agencies can find talented and skilled employees while workers get to sharpen their skills and add recent experience to their resumes.
Today, organizations need to compete more for rising talent. And one of the benefits of a returnship is you’re tapping into groups of talented workers who typically would be overlooked or filtered out of the interview process.
Returning workers are a huge benefit for organizations seeking to diversify their workforce. Some of the first returnship programs targeted women mid-career who took a break to raise their children. This pool of talent can also diversify recruiting pipelines with employees from underrepresented backgrounds like people with disabilities, women and those looking to "unretire."
Often, people in returnship programs are more engaged because they appreciate the organization for giving them a chance and providing the resources and training they need to re-enter the workforce successfully.
It’s important for public sector organizations to recognize that there are untapped pools of experienced workers waiting to be hired. These are workers that some organizations previously wouldn’t have even looked at based on the myth that these workers aren’t driven and have outdated skills. In fact, most people who want to return to work crave a career that gives them purpose.
Starting a returnship program can be challenging. The key is to carefully set up returnship programs customized to your unique agency needs.
Program lengths are diverse, often anywhere from eight to 16 weeks, depending on the industry and experience of the people entering the program. Often employees completing the program are offered jobs, so you have a steady flow of qualified and experienced applicants who already know the way your organization works. It’s a cost-effective way to find and train new employees. The best way to start may be to create a pilot returnship program for a specific position or group of people, like programmers, engineers or analysts. Then spend time developing reasonable projects that returning employees can do.
As you can see, returnships offer the benefits of diversity and engagement to employers and a chance for workers to sharpen their skills and receive up-to-date training. Why not tap into a group of potential employees that offer a wealth of experiences and skills and are often more engaged at work?
Start a pilot returnship program to develop and implement something beneficial to your organization and returning employees. Look for cost-effective ways to find qualified workers and get ahead of the agencies competing for top talent to become an employer of choice.
CPS HR Consulting is a self-supporting public agency providing a full range of integrated HR solutions to government and nonprofit clients across the country. Our strategic approach to increasing the effectiveness of human resources results in improved organizational performance for our clients. We have a deep expertise and unmatched perspective in guiding our clients in the areas of organizational strategy, recruitment and selection, classification and compensation, and training and development.