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Returners are not like other new joiners

Employers need to understand and support the needs of those who are returning to work if they want to benefit from the experience and maturity of this untapped pool of talent, says executive coach Geraldine Gallacher.

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Geraldine Gallacher

July 2017 

Returnships are enjoying a moment in the media spotlight as the number of employers wanting to tap into the pool of returner talent grows. This includes professional women and, increasingly, men who have taken an extended career break, often to raise a family, and are now ready to return to work.

Over the past couple of years I have witnessed an explosion of interest in returner programmes from accountancy employers, no doubt fired by the launch earlier this year of the ICAEW Comeback Community, and the promise of £5m in government funding to encourage employers to offer returner support.

It can be challenging for employers to know what support returners want and what support will best meet the needs of the business. Media attention has latched on to the fantastically catchy name “returnships”, and while this has boosted awareness of support for returners I am concerned the ubiquitous use of this term in the national press hides the full range of options an employer might consider.

There are a number of recruitment options you might take including the offer of a full time permanent role or a fixed term contract in addition to the temporary placement known as returnship.

For employers thinking about offering returner support for the first time, our recently published report, Bringing Talent Back To The Workforce, outlines the major forms of support an employer might consider along with the pros and cons of each option.

For those employers looking to strengthen existing support, the report also includes insight from ECC’s Career Returners’ survey. A key message for employers to take away is that returners are not like other “new joiners”. They may have needs specific to making the transition from primary carer to working parent as smooth as possible.

Employers that understand and support these needs stand to benefit most from the maturity and experience of this largely untapped talent pool.

Geraldine Gallacher is founding partner of the Executive Coaching Consultancy

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