Returnships

Posted: 26th September 2016

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By: Kay Heald

Returnships

You’ve heard of apprenticeships and graduate internships, but what about returnships?

With the recent film release of Bridget Jones’s Baby, and maternity issues very much in the news, you may be interested to find out more about returnships. The term was first used by Goldman Sachs in 2008 to describe programmes to encourage ex-employees back into the workplace after an absence of several years. In the US and UK they have most commonly been used to encourage the return of mothers who have chosen to take time out to have families. However, the same idea can also be used to encourage the return of ex-employees who have taken time out to care for elderly or sick relatives and can be equally applicable to males and females.

In theory, returnship programmes provide the employer and ex-employee with an opportunity to test and assess if a return to work would be positive for both parties. Unfortunately, many formal programmes, such as the Goldman Sachs model, only offer short term contracts and do not necessarily guarantee jobs at the end of a particular time frame.

However, there is nothing to stop businesses from adapting this idea into broader and more inclusive ‘back to work’ plans whether gaps have been due to maternity, eldercare or health issues. With good communication and planning, returnships or career re-entries can improve the morale, motivation and confidence of the returner whilst helping the business retain and further nurture talent without having to start its recruitment from scratch.

This seems like a win-win solution to me. If you would like any help or guidance in developing a suitable programme, just let me know. I’m not aware that this returnships approach has been used much outside London, but if you know of, or have accessed any such schemes, please do share your experiences.