5 Promising Ways to Get Stay-at-Home Parents Back to Work

(DGIwire) – Stay-at-home parents seeking to reenter the workforce can hit some unexpected snags that can delay their return. Yet as a recent article on the website of Harvard Business Review notes, parents who leave the workforce when their kids are young but later want to reenter it may be corporate America’s greatest untapped resource. Here are five strategies for getting these folks up to speed again:

  • Create “returnships”: “Unlike internships, returnships are real jobs that start out immediately training employees in something that will lead to a permanent position,” says Rebeccca Cenni-Leventhal, founder and CEO of Atrium, a staffing and contingent workforce solutions firm. “There are now at least 50 across the United States.” Open to men and women who have a taken a career break of at least two years, they generally last from eight weeks to six months.
  • Hire returnees into permanent positions with support: Some companies skip the returnship phase and go straight to direct hiring with new programs that offer coaching and mentoring designed specifically for returnees, HBR One company’s program includes an assigned “buddy” and an onboarding orientation program before the first day of work to ease reentry.
  • Host events to welcome candidates: Several companies have set up workshops to meet and evaluate potential returnees, says HBR; for example, one company offers a day-long event for selected applicants that combines career information, coaching and interviews. Another “Returning Talent” workshop is geared to professionals who want to come back to work, offering advice on interview skills and career searches.
  • Offer more than cash: Many parents returning to the workforce are still trying to balance family and career, and are interested in flexible work. Offering health insurance, retirement accounts and other benefits to these recruits can make a difference, says HBR. A Glassdoor survey found that four out of five people would rather have benefits than a pay increase, with health insurance topping the list.
  • Connect with college programs: In recent years, HBR says, college placement centers, once set up for graduating seniors and students seeking internships, have expanded their reach to alumni. Many of these promote career counseling at any stage of life. Some colleges retooled their career placement efforts after the 2008 financial crisis, in order to help alums whose jobs had disappeared.

“While no set of programs will ever be able to appeal to each and every parent who is seeking to return to the workforce after an extended period out of the office, these provide a promising set of ways to get them back into the swing of things,” Cenni-Leventhal adds.