Much has been written about talent management and employee engagement when it comes to current and prospective workforces – and rightly so. Most talent professionals spend hours managing the currently employed talent pool and making sure it receives the support it needs to thrive in the organisation.
Similarly, many organisations focus on enticing prospective employees by thinking about applying engagement strategies and offering interesting incentives. And while both approaches are very important for any talent management professional, a truly successful talent management strategy takes into consideration all talent – including those employees who don’t belong to either of these categories.
These are the long-absent employees, returning to the workplace after parental leave, a travel break or prolonged illness. They need as much, if not more, attention than the talent that is already employed or on the organisation’s wish list. Returning to work after an absence can be a daunting experience.
It can considerably decrease an employee’s confidence in their abilities and pose a risk of making them feel isolated. Yet sadly, for many HR professionals, the topic of long-absent employees remains an unaddressed issue, and the scale of the problem is starting to show.
UK community and job site Workingmums recently released its annual survey, combining the views of more than 2500 mothers. One of the main issues raised was the fact that women re-entering their field after taking leave face numerous challenges and many are forced to take up jobs at a lower level than before, and ultimately often end up retraining. It is also true that the economic climate doesn’t help employees who have a career break to get back into their fields of expertise.
A company culture that complements the way people behave at work, and an HR department that facilitates a smooth transition for employees back into existing job roles by implementing flexible working and retraining schemes, ultimately pushes forward its own business goals. That’s because an engaged workforce that feels valued and important is more willing to give the extra 10 per cent, the margin of difference that often stands on a company’s path to success.
Value your employees
Any organisation that takes the needs of its employees seriously will know that in an increasingly competitive marketplace, where people are your best asset, one can’t afford to leave anyone behind. Re-engaging long-absent employees is one of the best ways to show a company’s commitment to its people, which is key to retaining and attracting the best talent.
The importance of supporting long-absent employees in getting back on their feet should not be overlooked when thinking about talent strategies for the year ahead.