Guest blog: looking at returner programmes with Corndel

The Tech Talent Charter (TTC) is pleased to feature guest blogs that our Signatory organisations have contributed. In the blog below, management and technology training provider Corndel shares information about returner programmes.

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What is a returner programme?

CorndelA returner programme is a bespoke training programme intended for those returning to work after a career break. In some cases, organisations offer return-to-work schemes to support experienced professionals on their journey back to work.

Returner programmes can focus on a select group of individuals who have taken an extended career break and are keen to return to their profession. Returners may have taken extended leave for many reasons, including re-evaluating career plans, spending quality time with family, caring for elderly or sick family members, or getting involved in a passion project. Businesses benefit from developing a fresh pool of experienced talent by investing in this population and supporting their re-introduction to the workplace.

No two returners are the same, and each has their own reasons for returning to work. While each cohort of returners will face different challenges in adjusting to the workplace, the support they need will be relatively consistent. There are several key drivers that employers should consider when planning a returner programme.

What to consider when creating a returner programme

Before designing and implementing a returner programme, it is important to be clear about the benefits of doing so and ensure that the rest of the organisation understands the programme and its benefits. The organisation's culture must support the returner programme you choose to run. It’s important to ensure your leaders understand the returner programme's business case so they can champion the programme and establish a supportive environment, which is vital to its success.

Approaching this initiative holistically and training line managers in supporting returners ensures the best results. Offering line managers leadership and management training and specific advice on how best to support a returner will increase the likelihood of the programme’s success.

A degree of flexibility is vital. Returners often worry about the practicalities of juggling family commitments with a new job. A supportive programme that refreshes skills, knowledge and confidence whilst recognising the need for flexibility in hybrid working and flexible hours will be more likely to succeed.

Effective returner programmes should address common issues such as lack of confidence, and reduced professional self-belief. They should also seek to update industry-specific knowledge and reinvigorate an employee's skills.

What makes a programme successful?

In Corndel’s experience, best-practice returner programmes, which benefit both businesses and returners. adopt a delivery model that is structured, scaffolded, tailored and coaching-led to support returners back into work.

Corndel offers Professional Development Experts who are industry experts with real-world commercial and lived experience of returning to work after a career break. These Experts work directly with the returners to offer guidance. The delivery model also includes bite-size, manageable learning, personalised one-to-one coaching support and masterclasses on key topics such as stress management, finding a balance, and imposter syndrome.

Benefits of returner programmes

Implemented correctly, successful returner programmes can support greater gender diversity across an organisation. The concept of “supported hiring” allows organisations to tap into a mature, and often female, talent pool. Returner programmes can help answer the gender imbalance and achieve a diverse workforce.

Some industry sectors, including the technology sector, are experiencing a talent shortage. A returner programme creates access to an extra pool of people who either have the right skills but need coaching and mentoring to adjust back to work or could easily be trained to develop niche skills. In 2021, over 5 million women were economically inactive, many of whom for caring reasons. A large portion of this pool could have professional/managerial experience.

With the proper support, guidance and training, returners with proven business acumen and work ethic can be fast-tracked back to a suitable level role, helping to bridge the gap of female leaders. Hiring experienced returners is an innovative way to expand your female talent pipeline, boost the presence of more senior women in your organisation, and positively affect your gender pay gap.

As well as helping people who have taken a career break to return to work, Returner programmes can also deliver a competitive advantage for employers and positively impact brand image, showing the significant employer investment and support for parents and carers in the workplace. It demonstrates a commitment to non-linear career paths, which can be incredibly valuable in recruiting and retaining talented employees.

To learn more about Corndel, visit