Paul Chapman, National Lead for the Return to Practice programme, answers some of your top questions around starting and promoting returner programmes. Paul has supported many allied health professionals and healthcare scientists to return to work.
Where can I find returner recruits?
As programme leads, we hear so much about the need for recruitment drives and complex campaigns, but the beauty of returner programmes is that they involve tapping into a workforce that is right at your doorstep.
But we shouldn’t expect returners to do all of the work. Returners may often have had doors shut on them in the past, so make sure you open the doors to your organisation wide and welcome them in.
Be proactive about reaching out to this workforce and remove barriers that they may be experiencing. Online applications can often ask questions around timelines that can be difficult for returners to answer. Notify HR professionals of these potential barriers and encourage them to actively state in applications where roles would be suitable for returners. I’ve seen this done in the past and the results are fantastic.
How can I encourage potential returners to apply?
During my own career as a physiotherapist, I’ve seen first hand the nervousness some people experience when they are due to return and I don’t blame them! Returners may look back at an old position and feel that the landscape has completely changed.
The key is to remind returners that less has changed than it may at first seem. In health for example, the basic principles of anatomy won’t have changed, but the infrastructure may have. Before they join or even in the recruitment campaign, take time to address these changes head on and offer training or support in these areas.
Returning to practice can sometimes feel a little lonely, so assure returners that they are not alone and recruit in groups where possible. Peer support is one of the most powerful things I’ve seen – encourage this by holding regular meetings and setting up online help groups – a closed Facebook group worked wonders for our programme.
How can I navigate my organisation’s complex HR processes?
One of the most important things you can do when navigating your organisation is finding the right person to open the doors for you. However brilliant your programme may be, it can fall flat if it is not presented to the right people. Taking time to ensure your programme lands on the right desk can be game changing in terms of getting senior buy in and circumnavigating obstacles.
How can I get senior buy in for my programme?
The most effective tool for promoting a programme within your organisation is evidence. Research shows that proactively bringing returners back into an organisation can have profound effects on the workplace – shout this message far and wide.
Most returners have years of experience which can save organisations a lot of time and training. Remind your organisations of the value of these people and the wealth of knowledge, specialisms and incredibly broad set of skills they bring with them.