Insights for Organisations

From Breaks to Breakthroughs: How Hiring Returners Boosts Business Productivity

John Smith

Businesses today are walking a precarious tightrope of boosting productivity amidst a growing skills gap and economic uncertainty. The Great Resignation following the COVD-19 pandemic has tipped the labor market in favor of candidates. Organizations are increasingly vying with one another for access to the same talent pool, resulting wage wars that are driving up salaries to levels that are simply not sustainable.

The solution is to find an innovative approach to talent sourcing that puts you ahead of the competition.  Returners – individuals who have taken career breaks and are now ready to re-enter the workforce are a largely untapped talent pool. They bring a wealth of experience, skills, and fresh perspectives that can significantly contribute to enhancing business productivity.

Returners can adapt quickly, learn new technologies and processes, and hit the ground running. It’s this agility and flexibility that gives them a competitive advantage, which in turn enables organizations to drive innovation and efficiency.

While they benefit from the opportunity to re-enter the workforce and start their careers, businesses gain access to a talented pool of professionals who can contribute to their success. This mutually beneficial relationship not only improves productivity but also cultivates a culture of continuous growth and development.

In this article, we explore the potential of hiring returners to boost business productivity, bridge the gender pay gap, and create an inclusive work environment.

What’s in this article?

8 Benefits of hiring returners on diversity and inclusion

Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why businesses can benefit from hiring returners.

  1. Hiring returners promotes diversity and inclusion with companies by bringing unique perspectives and experiences that challenge unconscious biases. This contributes to a more inclusive work environment.
  1. Returners bring experience acquired in different industries or through personal pursuits during their career breaks. This is invaluable to teams, as it offers fresh insights and innovative approaches to problem-solving.
  1. Embracing the diverse backgrounds of returners allows businesses to develop a culture that values and empowers all employees, creating an inclusive work environment where everyone feels heard and respected.
  1. Prioritizing diversity and inclusion leads to improved employee engagement, increased innovation, and better decision-making. Research shows that diverse and inclusive teams made better business decisions up to 87% of the time.
  1. By hiring returners, companies can tap into a wealth of creativity and fresh thinking, leading to more innovative solutions. A study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) revealed that companies with diverse management teams had innovation revenue that was 19% higher than companies with below-average diversity.
  1. Returners bring a sense of resilience and determination to reignite their careers, which leads to higher levels of motivation and commitment to organizational success. When employees feel valued and included, they are more likely to be loyal and dedicated to the company, resulting in a reduced turnover rate and higher levels of productivity.
  1. Inclusive teams outperform their colleagues by 80% in team-based assessments. With this in mind, companies can implement strategies that actively promote the hiring and integration of returners. This may include establishing returner programs, providing mentoring and training opportunities, and creating supportive work environments that champion diversity at all levels.
  1. Returners who have taken a break to focus on full-time parenting bring valuable parenting skills such as multitasking, time management, problem-solving, communication, and adaptability. These skills translate into improved organizational skills, the ability to juggle multiple tasks efficiently, and effective conflict resolution.

Closing the gender pay gap

Closing the gender pay gap is a critical objective for organizations seeking to cultivate equality and create a fair and inclusive work environment. Hiring returners can play a significant role in addressing gender inequality and bridging the pay gap, with 74% of female millennials anticipating a career break at some point for childcare, elder care, or to support their partner in work.

Although McKinsey ranked Canada in the top ten of 95 countries on gender equality. women have only 23% representation in STEM professions in the country. Closing the gender pay gap and promoting gender equality in all sectors, including STEM, is vital for creating a fair and inclusive work environment. Hiring returners is a worthwhile strategy that addresses this issue, as it provides opportunities for women to rejoin the workforce and contribute their expertise in STEM.

Research has found that companies with the highest representation of women board directors outperformed those with the lowest representation by 53% in Return on Equity (ROE), 42% in Return on Sales (ROS), and 66% in Return on Invested Capital (ROIC). It is clear that a diverse and gender-balanced leadership team yields huge benefits for businesses. Not only does it contribute to closing the gender pay gap, but also drives overall financial success. In fact, studies have shown that organizations with gender-diverse executive teams are 21% more likely to experience above-average profitability.

Returner programs provide a platform for women to re-enter the workforce after a career break, offering training, mentorship, and support to facilitate a smooth transition back into the workplace. Companies that actively support returner programs create opportunities for women to regain their professional momentum and achieve financial equality.

Statistics show that around 69% of women in the U.S. have taken a break at some point in their careers. These programs offer essential training and support, ensuring that returners can quickly regain their confidence and skills in the workplace. Through initiatives like these businesses can demonstrate their commitment to diversity and inclusion, bridging the gender pay gap, and creating a more equitable future.

The potential impact of achieving full gender equality in the workforce is profound. By 2025, it is estimated that it could add as much as $28 trillion to the global annual GDP. In Canada, closing the wage gap and increasing female workforce participation could contribute more than $150 billion to the Canadian economy by 2026. This demonstrates the importance of gender equality and the economic benefits that can be achieved.

Returners’ impact on productivity

With 93% of organizations concerned about employee retention, returner programs provide a compelling solution to address this issue. By offering returner programs, businesses can tap into the potential of individuals who are already familiar with corporate culture and values, making the case even stronger for re-engaging and retaining these valuable talents.

At FDM, we have extensive experience working with returners. Their commitment to personal growth and continuous learning aligns with our belief in the importance of ongoing professional development. Returners’ shared dedication to acquiring new skills and knowledge not only helps them integrate back into the workforce, but also enables them to adapt quickly to industry advancements and make valuable contributions to the business.

Returners have a continuous drive for personal development that fuels their motivation to learn and grow and this has a positive effect on those around them. They frequently invest their time in attending workshops, webinars, and online courses, as well as engaging in self-study and research. It is this commitment to self-improvement and learning that enables returners to stay abreast of industry advancements. This dedication to continuous development and maintaining competence has been highlighted by research, which indicates that more than 80% of returners successfully transition to become full-time employees.

Furthermore, their dedication to personal development extends beyond furthering their technical skills. Returners also have a tendency to focus on improving their soft skills, such as communication, leadership, and problem-solving abilities. These well-rounded skill sets enable returners to collaborate effectively, navigate complex challenges, and contribute to the organization in multifaceted ways. In addition, returners often possess the qualities necessary to become excellent leaders. This is particularly vital as a study by Gallup reveals that approximately 50% of people quit their jobs due to issues with their managers. Their willingness to continuously develop their skills ensures that they can readily take on new responsibilities and contribute to various projects, maximizing their productivity and value to the business.

FDM’s Returners Program

Through the Returners Program, FDM has witnessed the positive impact that returners have on productivity. Returners bring a fresh perspective and a wealth of experience that contributes to innovative problem-solving and efficient project execution. Their motivation and commitment to their roles translate into higher levels of productivity and quality deliverables. By providing a supportive environment, we empower women to confidently step back into their professional lives and pursue their career aspirations.

Our FDM Returners program has been tremendously successful in promoting diversity, with an impressive 70% female intake in Business and Technology. Through this program, returners have found remarkable opportunities to reignite their careers and make a significant impact. Our success stories demonstrate the power of investing in returners, showcasing the potential that can be unlocked when organizations embrace and leverage the talent of those who have taken a career break.


Returner programs play a vital role in promoting diversity, closing the gender pay gap, and creating a more inclusive workplace. By embracing the talent and potential of returners, companies can drive innovation, tap into untapped talent pools, and enhance productivity.

It is crucial for organizations to recognize the value that returners bring and to implement returner programs as a strategic approach to talent acquisition and retention. In doing so, businesses can reap the benefits of a diverse workforce, close the gender pay gap, and create an environment that cultivates innovation, productivity, and inclusivity.

In the ever-evolving business landscape, embracing returners and their unique perspectives can lead to a more dynamic and successful organization. It has never been more important for companies to wholeheartedly embrace returner programs and unlock the potential of this valuable talent pool.

Find out more about how your business could benefit from returners and contact us for more information, or learn more about FDM’s services.