Returnships are a powerful way for forward-thinking companies to attract top talent who have been on a career break for some time and need that little bit of support to reenter the job market. The power of 2to3days is rooted in the Hood - our community of 28,000 mothers who are always on hand to give us insights into what forward-thinking companies should be offering to attract top talent. This year, in partnership with the returnship experts at Inclusivity, we’ve conducted a survey to find out what our mothers think about returnships. These programmes, which are designed to support people who have been on a career break get back into the job market, have only been around since 2014 and last year the total number available stood at just 50. Despite returnships still being in their early stages and relatively unknown in the wider business community, over 300 of our mothers shared their views between the beginning of December 2018 and the end of January 2019 and the baseline conclusion is that returnships are definitely in demand - assuming they can meet certain key criteria. Who answered the survey 31% of respondents have 16+ years’ experience. We know that our mothers reflect a high calibre of professional woman and the survey results confirmed this. Almost three quarters (73%) of respondents had reached a level of middle management and above before going on a career break, with almost a third (31%) having 16+ years of experience. These respondents represent a huge range of industries - including HR and recruitment, PR and marketing, financial services, legal, retail and education - and are based across the UK. Almost 3 out of 4 (74%) are currently on a career break, with the length of that break being quite varied: 34% have been on a break for 0-2 years, 30% for 3-5 years, 27% for 6-10 and 10% for 11+ years. Why they left and what they want now Reasons for a career break include redundancy, childcare costs and not being given the flexibility they need. There are lots of different reasons why our mothers leave their careers or take a career break. The survey brought up a wide variety but by far the most common was needing more flexibility because of motherhood and not getting this from their employer, so being forced to leave - 36% cited this reason. Others included: Being made redundant (14%) Changes in their partner’s role that made it no longer feasible for both of them to work 13% The cost of childcare 11% Becoming unwell and not being able to work any longer 4% More than half (52%) of the 2to3days mothers who responded to the survey are simply looking for a job that enables them to pursue their career when they are ready. However 43% are either seeking a middle management position or actively want to lead a team and progress as far as they possibly can. How our mothers feel about Returnships Almost half of our mothers think returnships are a good thing but 20% think they’re too selective in terms of functional area. This survey was specifically aimed at finding out more about what mothers think about returnships and whether there’s a need for more of them. The overall results were mixed. On the one hand, almost half (48%) felt that in general returnships are a good thing for companies to do. However, 20% believe they are too selective in terms of the functional area they’re geared for. That said, an enormous 78% of respondents were interested in going on a returnship programme, with only 6% not wanting to take part and the rest being unsure. But interestingly almost a third (32%) were concerned that these programmes are a way for companies to be ‘seen’ to be promoting women’s careers in order to tick a CSR box. Those who were interested in a returnship programme were motivated by a range of factors. But the primary one (46%) was the opportunity to get great experience with the prospect of being able to continue their career with a company they want to work for. A further 27% had tried applying for roles without success so were hoping that a returnship programme would enable them to restart their career. Other motivators included getting experience that looks good on a CV without having to commit to a job, gaining the confidence needed to re-enter the workplace, and changing careers at a time when they can’t commit to a fulltime job. What our mothers want from returnships 87% of respondents rate job training as an important part of a returnship programme. With the opinion on returnships one of positivity for the most part, we wanted to know more about what mothers in the 2to3days hood wanted from these programmes. The front runner was job training with 87% saying this was important to them. Next came mentorship with 69%, then networking opportunities (59%), long term career advice (54%), one-to-one coaching (53%), workshops (42%), a buddy system with fellow returners (42%) and regular get togethers with fellow returners (38%). A key requirement for returnships, according to the mothers who responded to our survey, is a degree of flexibility. 63% would only consider four days a week or less, 29% would be happy to work full time but only with genuine flexibility, and just 9% would consider working a standard full time week. Returnships are particularly appealing if they offer benefits in addition to a fair rate of remuneration. Most important is holiday entitlement, which 84% would like to see. This was followed by pension contributions (67%), private healthcare (43%) and emergency childcare (37%) How to encourage more mothers into returnships If so many mothers are keen to take part in a returnship programme, why aren’t more doing so? The reality is that there are still many barriers in place that make it difficult or even impossible for them to do so. A lack of flexibility is the biggest issue with 54% of our respondents saying that the time requirements are too high. Interestingly the second biggest issue was actually finding a returnship to go on, suggesting that there is huge potential for companies to tap into this way of recruiting top talent. Other barriers to going on a returnship programme included: Childcare (37%) Excessive commute (28%) Lack of confidence (21%) Uncertainty about getting a job at the end (21%) Our mothers were willing to consider an alternative to a returnship programme though, in the form of supportive hire. This is where a returner is hired to a permanent position and given coaching support as part of the transition back into work. 88% of respondents said they’d be interested in this option with only 4% saying no and the rest being unsure. In conclusion, it is clear that returnships are attractive in principle. But it’s important that returnships do not become a box ticking exercise and that they are developed with the very people they are trying to attract in mind, especially by offering flexible options that take into account childcare demands. Where these criteria are met, returnship programmes have huge potential for helping forward-thinking employers tap a previously hidden talent pool. In this way they can improve the quality of their teams, help address diversity issues and the gender pay gap, and so much more. To find out how we can help you develop and fill your returnship programme with top calibre professional mothers, get in touch today.
Juliet Turnbull, Founder & CEO of 2to3days, reflects on this year’s International Women’s Day theme, #BalanceforBetter and explains why we’ve got your back. Gender balance at work is a 2019 commercial imperative if companies want to perform at their best. The answer, in my humble opinion, to attracting and retaining women of all ages is to enable mothers to work flexibly. By doing so you will plug your female talent pipeline and attract senior talent, where the gap is glaring. Female role models working flexibly will also inspire younger women that they can progress their career with your company, knowing that it doesn't have to stop when they become a mother. 2to3days’ sole purpose is to close the void between the business world and motherhood by championing mothers’ careers on a flexible basis. Our mission is therefore to unearth all of the companies, large and small who get and support gender balance in the workplace and connect them to our rapidly growing community of highly capable mothers. It’s absolutely right that International Women’s Day is highlighting the central role business can play when it comes to driving gender balance. And it’s not a question of compromise - the business benefits are clear. So when it comes to powering your company's performance, we've got your back with our highly capable mothers. Access the power of the hood today.
How do companies get on hiring from our amazing pool of talented mothers? Find out more from companies themselves. Aiesec Volcano Coffee Works Hamilton & Hare TalentPool Access the power of the hood today and power your company's performance.
Two years after returning to work on the first ever EY Reconnect programme, Louise is now supporting others through their own career transitions. Here’s her take on why the programme works so well. You’re welcome, whatever your story “Like a lot of people, I came into EY Reconnect assuming it was aimed at mums, like me. But I was wrong! Men and women take career breaks for all sorts of reasons – from caring for elderly parents to doing further study – and it’s been great to see a variety of people flourish through the programme.” You get lots of support “Coming back to work after nine years away, I knew my skills were still there and that I had even picked new ones up during this time. But I had doubts. How would I turn these into something that’s useful at work? Would it be OK if I had to go home to care for my child? “Fortunately, I was surrounded by people who understood what I was going through and wouldn’t hesitate to help. During one demanding project, I had some serious family issues to deal with. When I eventually asked my colleagues for help, I was amazed at how supportive they were. As a result, I now encourage others to be open and ask for help. Share what you’re going through – because you’re not alone.” Your experiences are valued “It’s common to think that time out from work means switching off completely. But since being back, I’ve seen that life skills gained during this time can be used at work to great effect. For me, serving as school governor and organising my sister’s wedding were fantastic lessons in motivating people and managing projects. “I was also pleased to find that my career-break experiences have strengthened relationships with my clients. Empathy is a useful skill in this business, and having similar life experiences really helps with that, not to mention creating topics for small talk. For the team, having diverse perspectives from people at different stages of life enriches the whole EY experience.” You’re given relevant coaching “Coaching is a very helpful part of the Reconnect programme. It can be daunting, walking onto a client site after time away, able to confidently position yourself and your value to them. This is just the kind of thing we’d cover in group sessions, where we’d work on our personal elevator pitch, evaluate our skills, or learn how to build our networks on LinkedIn. “Then there’s the one-on-one coaching, which you can tailor to . I used it to help me reflect on what I’d achieved during the programme and make a case for why I should stay on as a permanent team member. I found this hugely helpful.” You’ve got nothing to lose “Programmes like EY Reconnect are a very low-risk way to explore returning to work. They’re here to help you decide what’s right for you. “I told myself that if the 12 weeks didn’t work out, there’s no harm done. At least I gave it a go. I wasn’t signing up to some long-term commitment. Fortunately for me, it worked out well and I was really happy to secure a permanent position at the end of the programme You see different ways to make it work “Once you do get into the programme, it’s so much easier to see what your options are. For me, the revelation was that flexible working doesn’t just mean taking one day off each week. From home-working, to half-days, to job-sharing; I saw people working flexibly in all sorts of different ways. EY has a very trusting, autonomous culture, which is one of the reasons it works so well.” You meet inspiring role models (and become one yourself) “The EY Reconnect programme doesn’t just expose you to great role models, it creates them. When I came in, I learned so much from people who had been in my position and were now thriving in their careers. I’m now privileged to be a career counsellor myself and I hope that my experiences can have a positive effect on others. “As a society, programmes like EY Reconnect are helping to shift our view of what life can look like. Career paths can stop and start, twist and turn, and that’s OK. Whatever your journey, there’s flexibility to fit in and make your mark.” To find out more about opportunities with EY Reconnect, click here.