This is the last of four articles on re-entering the workplace. Jean Baker wrote about her experiencesabout why businesses should try to recruit high-talent women who have taken a hiatus, and tips for women considering stepping away from work for a while. Today's post offers ways businesses can retain or recapture high-talent employees who step out of the workforce for a while. 


Losing talent in the form of turnover is expensive.  In addition to avoiding turnover costs, research shows that companies with female leaders also demonstrate better financial performance.


Here are some ways to retain high-talent employees:

  • Flextime/scheduling - allowing employees to work from home, work compressed workweeks ((four 10-hour days instead of five eight-hour days), or flexible schedules based on the season (e.g., work fewer hours in the summer when children are home, and more in the winter when they're back in school).

  • Reduced hour options (part-time and project-based work).

  • Pay for continuing education (or part of it) while women are out.

  • Help women "front-load" experiences; provide a sponsor/mentor.

  • Creative "benefits" (as part of a cafeteria-style plan).

  • On-site day care (or day care reimbursement options) - including "odd hour" care.

  • Child transportation, either as a service or a resource.

  • Access to home health care services for elderly parents.

  • Opportunities to do altruistic/volunteer work connected to the organization.

  • If your organization participates in community volunteer work (e.g., Habitat for Humanity), include those women who have stepped out in the project.

Ways to recapture high talent:

  • Provide re-boarding (instead of onboarding) and/or a program similar to Goldman Sachs' Returnship.

  • Create a recurring communication piece designed specifically for women who have stepped out, telling them about new policies, procedures or industry events/issues.

  • If there is a future need you can anticipate (e.g., individuals who speak a particular language, have familiarity with particular software/hardware, etc.), offer to pay for training for her so that when she is ready to come back, you have someone who is already ready for this new need who can step right into the role.

Potential concerns of employers:

  • Women won't return to the workforce.  Research shows that 89 percent of the women who are currently "off-ramped" want to resume their careers.

  • We will spend all this money and they won't return to us. Employees are loyal to companies that value them and make it easier for them to both work and take care of their lives.

  • These costs don't contribute to the bottom line; they're just "fluff." Research shows the exact opposite to be true.

  • Potential favoritism towards women.  As we make it easier for parents to have this flexibility, it will benefit both men and women.  

Offering more flexibility and work options for women (and men) isn't fluff, and it isn't just "the right thing to do."  It has a direct benefit for the businesses that implement them.


Jean Baker has taken the "scenic route" in her career, having practiced law, run a nonprofit and served as a financial representative before starting her consulting business, Jean M. Baker & Associates. Running through it all has been the common thread of women's advocacy and business. She has made presentations on a number of topics, including diversity, the effect of domestic violence on a business's bottom line and the need for women to be financially literate. 



Find Jean on her website, where you can read more of her blogs, via e-mail, or on Facebook and Twitter. She can also be reached by phone at 515-778-0017.