Sanford Health creates ‘Returnship’ as bridge for those returning to workforce

Dec. 12, 2019

Maybe you’ve been caring for a loved one, serving in the military or staying home with small children. No matter why you’ve been away, it can be exciting to think about returning to the workforce.

But it might be difficult to know where to start. Sanford Health human resources has designed a workforce re-entry program called Returnship to relieve some of those concerns.

Nikki Terveer recently shifted to a full-time schedule as an administrative fellowship coordinator at Sanford Health. Previously, she spent 12 years in part-time roles to give her the flexible schedule she needed with a young family.

Find a returnship opportunity: Search Sanford Health jobs

“I was super excited, but I was super scared,” she said of her decision to return to full-time employment. “I didn’t know what it was going to look like for my family. I wasn’t worried about me necessarily. I was more worried about what my life was going to look like outside of work.”

Career paths like Terveer’s inspired Sanford Health’s new workforce Returnship. Opportunities are available beginning in January.

Testing a return to the workforce

Terveer is not alone. In fact, 84 percent of millennials of both genders say they expect to take a “significant” break at some point in their careers. Their strategy will cover child care needs or other reasons, according to a Manpower Group report on millennial careers.

The Society for Human Resource Management says 2.6 million women age 25-54 hold bachelor’s degrees but are not in the workforce. They all have children younger than 18. Harvard Business Review reports that of the women who have taken career breaks, 93 percent are eager to return to full-time employment. Unfortunately, only 40 percent report successfully doing so.

As paid jobs, Returnships at Sanford Health provide career development and a chance to investigate new opportunities. The program focuses on experienced professionals who have been out of the workforce for extended periods. Training, mentoring, job shadowing and flexible scheduling are included in the 12-week experience.

For Terveer, her part-time jobs at Sanford Health were similar to a Returnship.

“There were some skills that I was able to maintain and grow during that time. I can see a Returnship being very beneficial for somebody that was outside of the workforce,” she said. “Technology’s constantly changing. This gives the opportunity to kind of bridge the gap from stay-at-home to full-time work.”

Focus on family

Returnships also will expand the feeling of family that Sanford Health employees often share.

“We know that family takes priority, whether it’s caring for children, caring for loved ones, caring for a spouse or maybe relocation and getting your family reacclimated,” said Brad Schoenfelder, senior director of human resources shared services. “We wanted to come up with a program that would help reintroduce those individuals to the workforce.”

Often, those outside commitments create a resume gap. Traditionally, employers downgrade job applicants with breaks in work experience.

“A lot of them had professional degrees, had great jobs. But they put it on hold for the family. We don’t want that to count against them,” Schoenfelder said. “We’re going to make an investment through mentorship, through helping improve skills. Really, it’s going to be a win-win for both the employer and the candidate.”

Who is eligible?

Candidates considered for a Returnship will have:

  • Prior professional experience
  • College degree
  • 24 months or more outside the workforce
  • Desire to return to work

What’s included?

  • 400 hours of paid work experience
  • 12-week program
  • Flexible scheduling
  • Professional development opportunities
  • Skill-gap analysis and career development

How to apply

All available Returnships will be posted on beginning in December. Use the keyword search.

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Sanford Health creates ‘Returnship’ as bridge for those returning to workforce

Thinking about returning to the workforce but unsure of where to start? Sanford has created a “Returnship” program to help.

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