Career Breaks and Returnships: How Can Companies Address Talent Shortage and Promote Diversity

Last updated 8 months ago
4 minute read

Career breaks have become increasingly common as individuals seek to balance personal and professional responsibilities. Whether it’s for childcare, caregiving, personal development, or other reasons, taking time away from work can be a valuable experience.

However, returning to the workforce after a career break can be challenging. To bridge this gap, many companies are now offering returnship programs to support individuals in their transition back to work.

What are returnship programs?

A returnship program is a specialized initiative designed to help individuals who have taken a career break or extended time away from the workforce to re-enter and transition back into their chosen field. These programs typically offer structured training, mentorship, and work experience opportunities to help participants refresh their skills, gain confidence, and update their knowledge in order to successfully reintegrate into the workforce. Returnship programs aim to bridge the gap between a career break and full-time employment, providing a supportive environment for individuals to rebuild their professional networks and regain momentum in their careers.

Why are they important?

Returnship programs are important for several reasons. Firstly, they provide an opportunity for individuals who have taken a career break to re-enter the workforce. These individuals may have valuable skills and experience but may have faced challenges in finding employment due to their time away. Returnship programs offer a structured and supportive environment for them to refresh their skills, gain new knowledge, and rebuild their professional networks.

Secondly, returnship programs help address the issue of talent shortage in certain industries or professions. By tapping into a pool of experienced professionals who are looking to return to work, organizations can access a diverse range of skills and perspectives that can contribute to their success.

Furthermore, returnship programs promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace. They provide an opportunity for individuals from underrepresented groups, such as women who have taken a career break for caregiving responsibilities, to re-establish their careers and contribute to the workforce.

Lastly, returnship programs can be beneficial for employers as well. They allow organizations to access a talent pool that may have been overlooked in traditional hiring processes. By providing support and training, employers can attract motivated and skilled individuals who are eager to contribute to their teams.

Overall, returnship programs play a crucial role in facilitating career re-entry, addressing talent shortages, promoting diversity, and benefiting both individuals and organizations.

What else can companies do to support professionals on the transition back to work after a career break?


1. Flexible Work Arrangements

One of the key ways companies can support individuals returning from a career break is by offering flexible work arrangements. This could include part-time or reduced hours, remote work options, or job-sharing opportunities. By providing flexibility, companies can help employees ease back into their roles while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

2. Training and Upskilling

During a career break, individuals may miss out on industry advancements and changes. To support their return, companies can provide training and upskilling opportunities. This could involve workshops, online courses, or access to professional development resources. By investing in their employees’ growth, companies can help them regain their professional footing and contribute effectively to the organization.


3. Mentorship and Coaching

Returning to work after a career break can be daunting, and individuals may benefit from guidance and support. Companies can assign mentors or coaches to returning employees, who can provide advice, share experiences, and help navigate the challenges of reintegration. Mentorship programs can foster a sense of belonging and provide a valuable support system for individuals returning to the workforce.


4. Employee Resource Groups

Creating employee resource groups specifically for individuals returning from career breaks can be highly beneficial. These groups can offer a platform for networking, sharing experiences, and accessing resources tailored to their needs. By fostering a sense of community, companies can help returning employees feel supported and connected.


5. Transparent Communication

Clear and transparent communication is crucial during the transition back to work. Companies should openly discuss expectations, responsibilities, and any changes that may have occurred during the employee’s absence. Regular check-ins and feedback sessions can help address concerns and ensure a smooth reintegration process.

Supporting employees during their transition back to work after a career break is not only beneficial for individuals but also for companies. By implementing flexible work arrangements, returnship programs, training opportunities, mentorship, and transparent communication, companies can create an inclusive and supportive environment. Embracing the returnship concept can help organizations tap into a diverse talent pool and foster a culture of continuous learning and growth.

For more information on returnships and career breaks, visit our blog.


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