Lara Roche, Owner and Lead Consultant of The Talent Sphere, has written this guest blog for the May 2018 edition of our newsletter ‘Shared Agenda’. We hope you enjoy it.
That first-day-at-work feeling. We’ve all felt it – the butterflies, the anticipation, the nerves. Usually those feelings come for people joining a new organisation but, with 75% of workers considering a career break each year (Confederation of British Industry survey, 2005), increasingly that “first day feeling” is felt all over again by people returning to a workplace that they have actually already been a part of.
When coaching work returners I am impressed at the increasingly widening breadth of reasons why returners chose their career break: maternity and parental leave, education opportunities, quenching a travel thirst, caring responsibilities, the list goes on. However I am always surprised that across sectors and organisations, stories of their return are often sadly similar: “it felt like joining a whole new place”, “I was shocked at how much had changed”, “it took me a long time to feel like I belonged again”. All too often what should be a comprehensive and heartfelt “welcome back”, is more of a “you know the ropes you’ll be fine”.
In reality, given the pace of change today and that the average length of a career break is 6 months to 2 years (The Career Break site survey, 2005), “the ropes” are likely to be significantly different upon a career breaker’s return than “the ropes” they left. Re-integrating returning Talent means planning a “welcome back” that helps them to understand and navigate exactly what they have in fact returned to. So how can we do it well?
When I talk with career breakers who have had a great return-to-work experience it seems to come down simply to being given clarity on four Ws:
Why does the organisation, department and team exist? What is their vision, their purpose as it now stands?
What exactly is the work currently? Is there a new focus in terms of audience, clients, products, services or channels? What specifically is the work of the returner?
Who are the new joiners since the returner left? What new roles have colleagues moved into?
When do important meetings and events take place? What key deadlines and dates does the returner need to be aware of?
Once the clarity has been planned for, it’s time to pay attention to the niceties. What would make the welcome back not just effective, but also a warm one? From Macmillan’s return to work Buddy Scheme to the desk decorating, cake and team lunches I’ve seen at numerous warm-cultured organisations, it is often the little touches that go a long way.
When you’re next bringing a career breaker back into your organisation, focus on the giving clarity through the four Ws and heart through some much-appreciated warm touches and you will successfully change a “welcome back” into one that’s more like a “welcome home”.
About The Talent Sphere
Lara Roche leads The Talent Sphere; provider of innovative people strategy and learning. Lara has led HR at Board level for several organisations and her work has won awards and accolades including Best Talent Strategy (HR Excellence Awards), Gold and Champion Status (Investors in People) and Top 100 Listings (Best Companies and Britain’s Top Employers).
To find out more about how The Talent Sphere can help you succeed as an organisation or individual, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07852 962099.