A new word has arrived in the world of HR – ‘returnships’. Although in truth, the idea was first launched in 2008 by the food company Sara Lee.
Internships vs returnships – What’s the difference?
Internships are students or graduates taking a work experience placement with a company to see if they are entering the right career, creating a network or simply making their CV look better. In return, the employer can see if they have the aptitude to apply their academic qualifications.
Returnships, on the other hand, are experienced people who have taken a career break and want to get back into the marketplace at a level appropriate for their academic qualifications and life experience.
A mother’s intuition
Most people that take returnships are women who have taken career breaks to raise their children or care for elderly parents. And by recognising that these women have hugely transferable skills, the company benefits. They usually are emotionally intelligent and have great organisational and negotiating skills – the latter proven by any mother who has handled a toddler in a full-blown tantrum in the middle of John Lewis.
By offering a three-month returnship, the company benefits from these skills. And if the returnship ends in a permanent placement, it can address the gender imbalance at management level that the country is suffering from.
However, this is fine for large companies that have the capacity and bank balance to provide it, but can it work for SMEs?
The power of returnships
It is certainly more difficult for SMEs to offer short term placements, so why not use this pool of talent for normal recruitment? We know there is a skills shortage and by saying in the advert ‘returners welcome’, you may uncover a whole new resource.
Naturally, there may be a longer period during which the employee gets to grip with new technology or systems. But for a managerial role, their people skills will be operational from day one.
These older workers can bring maturity. And with a properly planned and reviewed induction programme in place, everyone wins.