Return to work programmes now critical to retaining talent.

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Research from Robert Half has revealed more than four in five (83 per cent) UK business leaders have a return to work programme in place – either formally or informally. Over two in five (43 per cent) business leaders have a tailored programme to help new parents return to work, while 40 per cent have informal schemes in place. Whether it is due to a career break, temporary retirement or family obligations, businesses are increasingly looking to provide support for people returning to the office after an extended period away.

As a result, business leaders are beginning to reap the benefits of return to work programmes and the positive effects that tailored support can have on employees readjusting to being back at work.

Over a third (35 per cent) cite the flexibility of working hours for returners as one of the main benefits, while 33 per cent have noticed improved retention rates with working parents. Meanwhile, 32 per cent of UK business leaders believe that return to work schemes are beneficial because they effectively welcome the employee back into the workplace.


Primary benefits of a return to work programme cited by employers
Working hours can be adjusted as requested 35 per cent
Improved retention with working parents 33 per cent
Effectively welcomes back the returning worker 32 per cent
Supports reintegration of the returning worker 31 per cent


Separately, one in three (29 per cent) say that return to work schemes maintain organisational knowhow, while 27 per cent believe they provide a plan with tangible deliverables to support the confidence of returning workers. The most popular initiatives offered by businesses to support returning to work parents include: flexi-schedule (33 per cent), working from home (31 per cent) and childcare vouchers (31 per cent).

“Formal return to work programmes were first popularised by large multinational corporations such as Deloitte, PwC and Capgemini, but the benefits are being seen by business both large and small,`” said Matt Weston, managing director, Robert Half UK. “As the world of work continues to change, new skills are required and professionals who spend an extended period of time away from the office might feel daunted at the prospect of returning to work. However, businesses who support the reintegration of returners are often tapping into a hidden talent pool who have years of experience behind them and finely tuned skillsets which can prove invaluable to business leaders. Businesses we speak to are seeing the benefits of hiring professionals with the ability and willingness to learn, effective soft skills and cultural fit, while identifying a training plan to upskill on the technical skills.

“Offering schemes which can positively support employees settle back into their working life can help address skills shortages and boost retention rates,” Weston adds. “Mentorships and training opportunities, as well as regular check-ins, are just some of the ways that employers can support workers returning to the office.”

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