Implementing a Returnship Program, Where to Start

Creating and implementing a Returnship Program is a significant undertaking and requires some initial planning to make sure it goes well. It’s not difficult to set a program up for success, but there are some questions you’ll need to address at the outset.

Here are the things you’ll need to consider.

Appetite for a Return-to-Work Program

The first thing to do is to figure out if there is an appetite within the company for a Returnship program. It takes a certain mindset and buy-in from a few departments to make it happen. These departments include Talent Acquisition, the head of whichever department(s) are participating, and a select number of Hiring Managers in that department. Human Resources and any contingent workforce leaders may also need to be involved.

Hiring Managers

When it comes to Hiring Managers, it’s important to make sure they are 100% supportive of the program. Their participation should be voluntary and not required. In our experience, this was one of the most important factors related to the success of a Returnship Program. Some of the more successful programs take this a step further and include a screening process for Hiring Managers where they are required to explain why they would like to be part of the program.

We can’t emphasize enough how important it is to select the right Hiring Managers.

(Read: A Comprehensive Guide to Implementing a Successful Returnship Program)

Job Selection

Next is deciding which roles are the best fit for Returners. There are a few things to consider here.

Does the role allow for ramp-up time?

Roles that need a new hire to contribute immediately may not be the best choice. While not always the case, Returners may need some time to reacclimate to the work environment, workplace tools, and other aspects of returning to work. Keep this in mind when deciding on which jobs will be included in the Returnship Program. But once ramped-up, our experience shows that they are often some of the most productive employees in the company.

Do You Have the Internal Recruiting Resources?

Returners are a unique talent pool and require a unique recruiting process. Does your organization have the expertise to source, screen, and hire Returners?

Returners are hesitant to apply for roles when they feel like they will be competing with candidates without a work gap. And when they do apply, do you have recruiters that fully understand how to interview and screen them? Are your Recruiters able to evenly compare then to traditional candidates? Will you have roles specifically for Returners? How will you reach them so they can apply?

If you don’t have the internal recruiting expertise, you’ll need to find training for your recruiters or partner with an organization like Women Back to Work that offers full-service returnships that provide recruiting expertise and more.

Having the right approach to sourcing and screening Returners is key to a successful Returnship program.