- More than three-quarters of respondents to a recent survey — 77% — said it would be difficult to find a job if they took two years off from their career, according to Feb. 4 findings from staffing firm Rose International.
- Nearly half (47%) of the respondents, however, said contingent work is a good way to get back into the workforce after taking time off. The same percentage said contingent work is a good way to learn new skills.
- When looking at the results based on gender, women identified learning new skills and workforce re-entry as the most important benefits of temping, while men said learning new skills and flexibility were the top benefits.
Employers have realized that it can be difficult for individuals to rejoin the workforce following extensive leave. Return-to-work programs, or returnships, have been trending for some time, aimed at preparing people for jobs after a break in their careers and reconnecting them professionally with peers. The programs have taken off as a way to solve both resume gaps for employees and talent gaps for employers.
Experts say workers in the programs tend to have soft skills and work ethic — but a lack of access to opportunities due to a long absence. Caregivers and military personnel returning from service are common users of returnship programs.
Several high-profile employers have such programs: Walmart introduced its own return-to-work program at a few California offices and PwC introduced an internal phased return-to-work program, allowing employees who have been out on parental leave to work 60% of their normal schedule at full pay for four weeks after returning to work. The program helps returning workers gradually re-acclimate without a loss in either knowledge or pay.
TD Bank also announced a program expected to begin in the New York City metro area early in 2020 to help financial professionals re-enter the industry following an extended family, medical or personal leave. The program includes coaching, mentoring, personal development, career revitalization and networking.
Similarly, the BP Returnship Program, which gives employees who go out on extended family or personal leave the professional development and engagement support they need to re-enter the workforce, was reinstated last year after a successful 2017 pilot program. Program participants are paid and required to make a full-time commitment. After completing the program, participants are offered mentoring and networking opportunities and have the potential to obtain full-time roles at BP.
Experts have said that before pitching a new initiative such as a returnship program, to the C-suite, talent pros should consult with the CFO and seek feedback on the program's business case.