Insights for Organisations Returners

Is hiring returners your key to a 25% profitability boost?

Returners Careers Team
19.06.2024 Published: 19.06.24, Modified: 19.06.2024 14:06:04

Around 590,000 people were unemployed in Australia in April 2024. Though this rate of 4% of the population remains unchanged from 12 months prior, it still represents a sizeable share of the population that have voluntarily or involuntarily left the workforce.

Recent research has found that about 44% of Australian women working in tech are considering leaving their jobs, compared to 32% of men. The most common reasons given for this were unsupportive managers and a lack of opportunity for career development.

Deloitte Global report surveying 5,000 women across 10 countries found that nearly 80% experienced increased workloads due to the pandemic, and 66% reported having more responsibilities at home. So, it’s not a surprise that women account for the majority of career leavers who are now looking to return to work.

Over recent years, both private and public sectors have initiated returner programs to help professionals re-enter the workforce after career breaks. In the US and UK these types of programs have been successful particularly in the finance, professional service and STEM sectors. Although there is a growing number of organisations in Australia that already offer supported returner programs, such as FDM, they are not widespread, particularly in regional areas. The Australian government has produced starter packs to support the private sector in implementing these programs.

The massive untapped potential of women returners

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, approximately 470,000 Australian women lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic between 2019 and 2020. While some were forced to leave their jobs, others chose to leave to take on other life duties. Now, around 76% of professional women want to return to work after a career break. How can this unique talent pool of returners add value to your business?

Leveraging vast experience to elevate tech teams

Career returners usually bring years of industry knowledge, skills and experience to a role, allowing them to integrate seamlessly into most teams and hit the ground running with minimal supervision.

Jonathan Young, Chief Information Officer at FDM Group, says, ‘Despite massive evolution in the tech market, many of the things we do today are easily understandable for returners. For example, a returner will likely understand from memory the effort required to deploy a large enterprise system to live or test – and so “get” the challenges DevOps is designed to fix really quickly.’ The same can be said about other specialisations as well.

Women returners drive multiple benefits of gender diverse teams

Research by McKinsey & Company found that companies that ranked in the top quartile for gender diversity in executive teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than those in the bottom quartile. Diverse teams that include career returners also attract talent from other demographics. For example – 83% of Gen Z candidates consider a company’s DE&I commitment when choosing an employer. Younger workers tend to look beyond the traditional definitions of diversity like ethnic and racial representation to instead focus on diversity as a mix of identities, socio-cultural experiences and ideas.

Hiring returners who typically represent a wide age range of workers also helps counter ageism in the workplace. Women returners further help expand an organisation’s female talent pipeline and can make way for more women in senior roles. This has a positive impact on your gender pay gap.

Bridging the digital skills gap in post-COVID era

According to a Gartner report, IT executives currently identify talent shortages as the biggest barrier to adopting 64% of emerging technologies, surpassing conventional challenges like security and implementation.

With high attrition rates following the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses are struggling to fill roles that require specialist digital skills. This highlights the need to re-strategise recruitment policies and consider alternative talent sources. Returners are a still largely untapped, great pool of talent who can help organisations fill their digital skills gap.

Gender parity in the workforce: an AUD$11 billion opportunity

If the right steps are taken now to promote gender-parity improvements, even a 2 per cent increase in the number of women in the workforce could boost the Australian GDP by up to AUD$11 billion. This potential alone should encourage organisations to welcome more women. Additionally, hiring returners can save money long-term as they bring skills and experience that new employees might take months to develop.

Building long term business success with FDM’s Returner Program

According to a study by PWC, three out of five women returning to the workforce will move to a lower skill role, immediately reducing their earnings by a third.

FDM recognises the extraordinary value that returners bring to businesses. Our aim is to match their unique skills and experiences to existing talent gaps in the market through our Returner’s Program, facilitating their return and reintegration into the workforce.

To date, the FDM Returners Program has helped over 500 people get back to work after a career break, with over 200 people currently enrolled. Our ‘best of breed’ Returners Program has a 70% female intake and aims to help people forge long-term careers in tech whilst driving diversity forward in an innovative and evolving sector.

FDM’s Returners Program offers upskilling across each of our five practices. Our consultants receive specialist instructor-led and project-based training designed to refresh their existing skills and terminology and equip them with industry-recognised qualifications.

In 2022 we saw the first all-female cohort of consultants complete their training on what was then the FDM Tech Returners Program. The program was tailored to help professionals return to work after a career break as mid-senior and lead developers. After 14 weeks of instructor-led training in current and emerging technologies, all of our consultants were successfully assigned with leading financial services and tech companies.

To qualify for our current program, applicants must have had a minimum 12 months’ career break and 5 years of relevant industry experience. There is no upper limit to the length of the career break, and this can vary significantly from candidate to candidate. The average career breaks are between 3 – 5 years but some of our returners have career gaps of up to 20 years.

From coaching to mentorship: FDM’s Returner Program supports career comebacks

The FDM Return to Work program offers our consultants much more than just coaching and experience. In addition to the tech or business training, we offer CV and interview support, mentoring and support programs. Our expert teams, many of whom are returners themselves, understand the unique challenges that returners face when getting back to work after a break and are there to offer support every step of the way.

Our support programs include wellbeing and mentoring initiatives, like our Care Employee Network, that aim to support individuals with parental or caring responsibilities. We have recently welcomed Ukrainian refugees and other displaced women into our UK program, providing ongoing and regular wellbeing check-ins.

Are you looking to close your skills gap and hire some of the best talent the country has to offer? Check out our consultant services or get in touch for more information.