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Return-to-Work Programs for Moms

5 Return to Work Programs for Moms

“I need to get back to work” are common words I hear from new moms. Whether it’s just to get out of the house or to interact with their peers, new moms want to re-enter the workforce. 

The reality is that most women struggle to find a job that offers the flexibility needed to both work and be a mom. In a 2020 survey conducted for LinkedIn, 21% of moms reported one of their biggest fears was not being able to manage a career and home. The survey also showed that 25% of moms are afraid they won’t have the job skills needed, and 15% said they were afraid they would be viewed as less capable in the workplace. 

However, numerous surveys show that mothers are better at communicating, building community, and remaining calm under fire. Mothers bring unique leadership skills that their male and female counterparts don’t. Yet many employers remain biased against new moms. But that is changing. Here are five return to work programs for moms to get back out there! 

  1. Returnships. Returnships are programs targeted for those returning to the workforce after taking considerable time away. The purpose of returnships is to sharpen your skills and gain relevant experience in today’s employment market without having to start from scratch. Hannah Fleishman, HubSpot’s senior manager of employer brand, believes returnships will become increasingly popular in the tech world to increase age diversity. Age diversification offers companies a richer perspective, according to Fleishman. HubSpot is not the only company offering returnships. Companies from financial services and investment banking to online retail companies also offer returnships for professionals returning to work. While the programs vary, most require a minimum of a two-year absence from paid work. Programs range from 17 weeks to six months and include training, mentorships, and coaching. As a bonus, most returnships are paid and many offer employment once the program is complete. 


  • Direct hire with support. A 5-year hiatus from the workforce can leave moms without the modern-day skill set necessary to manage in today’s workplace. Companies that offered returnships found that they were hiring program participants once they were fully trained. With that, there has been a shift to a direct hire with a twist! Companies are directly hiring qualified employees who have been out of the workforce for a while. The direct hire will work one-on-one with a mentor to gain additional skills training. USB‘s returnship program began in 2016 and is now a direct hire program. USB reported hiring 92% of its returnship participants into permanent positions, so it made sense to make the shift. Ford also transitioned its returnship into a direct-hire program in 2019. In its first year, Ford hired a dozen people into the program. 



  • Workforce re-entry workshops and events. Another great option for moms returning to the workforce is to attend company-sponsored workshops. Bank of America offers Returning Talent workshops, allowing individuals to build a professional network, explore opportunities at Bank of America and learn how the banking industry, in particular, has changed. Since its launch in 2012, Bank of America has supported over 300 “returners” in its Returning Talent program in the UK and Ireland. Bloomberg launched its first Women’s Returner Circle New York in 2016 through a partnership with iRelaunch. The event’s focus was to find and support talented women with experience in the financial services industry who wished to return to full-time work. Bloomberg continues to host Returners Circles in New York and London.

This is an excellent way for moms returning to work to feel out an employer without making a strong commitment. It also provides a great opportunity to network and build relationships with potential employers or other “who’s who” in the working world.   

  • More than a paycheck. Employers are realizing that full-time traditional work doesn’t fit the lives of new moms also caring for their family. Offering flexible schedules, part-time, and project work helps new moms return to work. A lot of larger companies offer these arrangements including Johnson & Johnson, Costco, JP Morgan Chase, and Boston Consulting Group. But don’t count out the little guy! Ask if there is a possibility of flexibility in your schedule. Wow your new employer and they may be willing to work with your schedule.

  • The Mom Project. Founded in 2016, The Mom Project creates opportunities for moms to re-enter the workforce. According to their website, 43% of highly skilled women leave the workforce for motherhood. The Mom Project works with companies that need talent and expertise by facilitating connections and initiating change within the company and at the policy level. The Mom Project uses research to show companies how best to support working parents and then works with its members to find positions. 

Return-to-work programs ease the transition from professional mom to professional employee. The fact is that return to work programs attract and retain top female talent. Return to work programs for moms have proven to be successful, maintaining job satisfaction and employee retention. 

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