Returnships have been used in the United Kingdom for the last eight years. They are essentially a high-level version of an internship designed to help experienced professionals get back to work after taking a career break. Returnships are professionally paid and generally last somewhere between 3 and 6 months, depending on the role and length of time off.
These programmes have been introduced to help tackle the problems that many workers face when returning to work after time away. Often, they struggle with technology skills or a lack of confidence after a long period away from work.
Women are often the ones who benefit from returnships, but they can be an excellent tool for anyone looking to get back to working life after a break. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that there are 1.8 million women in the UK not currently in paid employment because they are caring for family, compared with just 200,000 men in the same position.
Nearly 500,000 of these women want to return to work, and this is a task that isn’t always easy. A report by PwC found that three in five women returning to work after a career break find themselves in roles that are below their potential.
Returnships Bring Many Benefits To Both Returners And Employers
When an individual has taken a break from their career, getting back into it is certainly not easy. Returnships give these workers the chance to pick up again where they left off and create a structured routine for getting back into working life.
These returnship programmes don’t always mean workers have to go back to the same role or industry they had before and can be used to help individuals go into a different position after a break.
With returnships, people do not have to begin their career from the bottom and can utilise their previous experience once again.
From an employer’s perspective, returnship programmes allow you to access a diverse, high-calibre pool of talent. You can easily assess an individual’s ability to conduct a role before offering a permanent position, making returnships a low-risk strategy for bringing in new workers.
While returners might have been out of work for some time, they still often have a lot of valuable experience from prior to their break. Furthermore, this is knowledge and skills they will not have forgotten. These individuals often just need some support and guidance to improve their use of the latest technologies or software.
Many returners also developed a lot of transferrable skills during a break, such as multitasking, time management and organisation. These are all skills which many parents taking career breaks can bring to the table on a returnship programme.
How Returnships Promote Diversity And Inclusion
Many companies are now taking crucial steps to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. Apart from just being the right thing to do, promoting DEI brings many benefits to a business. Having a diverse workplace will improve employee experience and bring new perspectives and viewpoints to your organisation.
Not only that, but a diverse workforce can actually help improve your bottom line. Companies with a diverse management team enjoy 19% higher revenues than those without.
Returnships are an excellent way of promoting diversity and inclusion in your company. More and more organisations who are investing in returnship programmes are seeing an improved ability to attract and retain talent while also furthering their diversity agenda. This is particularly true for getting more women into senior positions after career breaks.
In fact, it was recently reported that 90% of those taking part in returnships were women. Generally speaking, it is women who take career breaks to care for families and children, and getting back into work after this time off is a challenge.
It isn’t just women who benefit from returnships, and many other individuals could use these schemes to get back into work. Those facing disabilities may have been forced to take time away from work and could use a returnship to pick up where they left off.
Workers relocating from other countries could have taken a career break and benefit from a returnship programme on arrival in the UK. Making it as easy as possible for those who have been out of work for a while to get back into the swing of things and join your team will work wonders for your DEI.
How To Invest And Improve Returnship Programmes For Your Organisation
Whether you already run a returnship programme or you are considering starting one for your business, there are a few things to bear in mind. You must understand that the cost of having a returnship scheme is likely to be high, and a lot of work and effort needs to be put in for it to work well.
A returnship programme should not be considered an extra initiative to an existing scheme but a consistent and embedded programme for boosting DEI. This kind of approach will never work if the rest of the organisation is not geared to promoting diversity.
Take the time to use data and evidence to build a returnship programme in your organisation. Assess where you might have skill gaps and determine where returners can integrate into your business.
It is often best to start with a small returnship scheme and expand it gradually so that you can give returners the support and attention they need to succeed. Make sure employees on your returnship programme have one point of contact who they can go to if they have any concerns or issues.
Returnship programmes will only be a benefit to your business and improve your diversity, equity, and inclusion if they are successful. Your aim is to attract quality talent and help them harness their existing skills and get up to speed with the latest technologies. Returnship schemes should see excellent retention rates when done properly, as returners move from the programme into permanent roles in the business.