The challenges of returning to work: ECC Career Returners’ Survey

One of the surprising announcements in the Budget was the proposed £5 million for supporting Returnships. It’s not a huge sum and so I’ll be interested to know how they’ll spend it.

My vote is for educating managers to welcome back returners because they can make or break a returner’s success. Or even better they can fund our research into what makes a good returner programme!

I first came across the notion of a Returnship when I met with Goldman Sachs in NY in 2011. We were discussing Parental Transition Coaching which is something we specialise in. In the conversation they mentioned that they had introduced Returnships as a way of bolstering the female pipeline because they knew about the leak of talent around the early parenting years and reasoned that it would be sensible to re-recruit the lost talent.

They had been running Returnships successfully since 2008 in New York. Indeed they trade-marked the name. As soon as I heard the name I knew that it was a brilliant idea and so when I got back to the UK I was delighted when one of our investment banking clients decided to run a Returning Talent programme with us as partners here in London.

We have worked with them every year since on both sides of the Pond, as well run programmes for clients in Zurich, San Francisco, New York and London. These will be programmes that many of you have attended, or are now considering attending, through seeing them featured here on WeAreTheCity.

We’re always keen to get the content of these programmes spot on and because we are executive coaches we’re particularly interested in the psychological journey of someone returning to work after a career break.

We know that our sessions on Confidence, Building your personal Brand, Networking and Balancing your Life seem to hit the mark but we know there’s more to learn.

For this reason, we are launching our Career Returners’ Survey. Our objective with the research is to compare and contrast the perceived challenges of people on the journey back to work with those of the Returners that have actually come back. Was the technological challenge as big a deal as you thought it was going to be? How quickly did my confidence return once I was back at work? Do people see you forever as wearing the Returner badge like an L plate? Is the CV Gap an issue?

In addition to finding answers to these questions we’re interested in what is the best structure of a programme for Returners? At the moment everything gets lumped under the banner of a Returnship when in fact many of the programmes that we run don’t actually offer a Returnship! Some of them have guaranteed jobs with onboarding coaching and so they are essentially direct entry hiring programmes that circumvent traditional recruitment channels. Others such as the WATC We are Future Leaders conference provide workshop learning and exposure to a range of would be employers. Other companies choose to do their own programmes such as UBS Career Comeback programme and the BAML Returning Talent programme. What are the pros and cons of each approach?

We would very much appreciate you taking the time to complete our survey by pressing the link below and you will be able to access the results in June when we post the results on our website:

Thank you very much for participating in research that I think will improve the experience for all of you hoping to get back to work after an extended career break.

This survey has now closed.


About the author

Geraldine Gallacher, is the Managing Director of the Executive Coaching Consultancy (ECC).



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