Retire or returnship?


Strategy Director Laura Agricola shares her views on why returnships are all the rage right now.

As someone who works in a company with people of all ages, I can say firsthand that it really is the fusion of diverse backgrounds and skills that truly drives our agency forward. We don’t focus on how old someone is; instead, we value the individual and the contributions they make. Whether someone is fresh out of university or has decades of experience under their belt, what matters most is their unique perspective and the ideas they bring to the table.

Which is why I’m excited to see a growing number of companies hiring older workers. Due to a strong job market, an increased retirement age and a recognition of the benefits of a diverse workforce, we’re seeing a growing trend towards “returnships” – programs geared towards experienced, late-career professionals looking to rejoin the workforce after an extended absence.

“They know themselves better, they have lived more life, and they have a better sense of where they can add value to an organization.”

– Fishman Cohen, CEO/co-founder of iRelaunch

These employees come with years of experiences and skills that are sorely needed in the workforce. And the response from employers has been overwhelmingly positive, with many offering returners fulltime roles.

Some of the hottest employers on the block are getting in on the action. Goldman Sachs – one of the world’s pre-eminent investment banks, whose average employee is just 28-years-old – has even launched their own six-month paid returnship program.

Chief of Staff, Diversity Recruiting Ashley Miller, who runs the program and is a returner herself, says it’s a great way of reacclimating to the workplace: “you come in this very comfortable way with this cohort and community of other likeminded people.”

These returnship programs can go a long way to counteracting ageism in the workforce, while ensuring that the benefits of cross-generational communities are being championed from the top down.

“Average life expectancies are approaching 100 years in the foreseeable future. If people leave the workforce at age 50 due to discrimination, negative attitudes and the absence of pathways to retrain, they may have additional 50 years of life withoutpaid work.”

– Australian Human Rights Commission

National Prevalence Survey of Age Discrimination in the Workplace 2015 Report