If your organization doesn’t have a returnship program, it’s missing out. While “returnship” is a trademarked term, and has been since 2008 when Goldman Sachs ran its inaugural ten-week program for people who wanted to return to full-time work, the methodology is everywhere now.
Initiatives may be called “returning professional internships,” “return-to-work programs,” “career re-entry programs,” and similar, but the concept is the same. These invaluable corporate schemes annihilate the bias associated with employment gaps and address the greatest concerns employers have about hiring people who haven't' engaged in paid work for an extended period of time, bringing eager, educated, and dedicated workers back into the fold.
It may not be an easy process, but it’s well worth the effort. Here’s why.
1. It’s a candidate’s market
“Unemployment is low, which means it’s getting harder and harder for employers to find qualified talent,” explains Parents Pivot founder Anna Mckay. Her organization caters to men and women who have taken time off to raise children as well as organizations which can benefit from reaching employment candidates within the group. According to SHRM, there are three million women who want to reenter the workforce now, having taken time off to care for children, but they’re not the only ones vying for positions. People take time away from work or an industry for a myriad of reasons, such as active military duty, layoffs, health issues, and familial caregiving duties.
Overall, 96% of hiring professionals share Mckay’s sentiments, saying identifying quality candidates is their greatest challenge. In an article for Inc., Sujan Patel notes that employers are having to adapt by broadening their focus and exploring nontraditional channels for fresh candidates.
If your organization belongs to the 96% that can’t find qualified candidates, reaching the millions of skilled people with employment gaps is a no-brainer.
2. A returnship program can bolster diversity & inclusion measures
Research from Pew indicates 4-in-10 mothers take significant time off in order to care for a child or other family member, while nearly 3-in-10 have outright quit to do so. Men are not immune, though their figures are roughly 2-in-10 and 1-in-10, respectively. This in mind, companies that are actively making diversity a priority or trying to prime their leadership pipeline by recruiting more women can streamline their efforts by actively recruiting those who have been out of the industry for a period of time.
3. Talent is going where opportunity lies
Globally, there are nearly 100 companies with a returnship program, according to the “return to work experts” at iRelaunch. The competition for positions is steep. According to the Atlantic, hundreds of applicants vie for Goldman’s 20-30 spots each year. Forbes puts the acceptance rate at 0.019% for the program and notes the competition for General Motors’ “Take 2” initiative is similar with just 0.025% of all candidates being accepted. Without a doubt, organizations that adopt a returnship program attract well-qualified candidates in droves and typically retain 80-90% of them after the session concludes.
The energy sector needs to catch up
Given that women are grossly underrepresented in energy and it’s slowing progress, the industry could greatly benefit from incorporating more returnship programs. The problem is, very few energy companies offer anything at all in the way of programming, and even those which do have limited offerings.
There’s Chevron, which recently partnered up with iRelaunch to create the 10-week Welcome Back Returnship Program. The inaugural run is set to conclude this month. The BP Returnship Program, crafted in partnership with The Mom Project, relaunched this year as well, giving nine candidates a nine-month career reboot. Shell’s Return to Work Programme shows promise too, but it’s limited to the UK.
These are solid steps in the right direction, but certainly,
we can, and should, do better.
Take the Returnship Program survey
Pink Petro is partnering up with Parents Pivot to get an industry pulse on the state of returnships. Regardless of what stage of planning your organization is in, please help us out by spending three minutes answering a few questions about your company’s mindset, challenges, and objectives.