Stress Following a Career Break

Government Development Agency

The Challenge

Stress following a career break. This client organisation had a career break / sabbatical programme in operation, wherein a staff member could take up to 5 years out and return to the organisation in due course.

Individuals, availing of the scheme, were normally young parents who would choose to take up to 5 years out in homemaking activities. Their return, when the 5 years was up, usually progressed smoothly. Others, however, found the transition back to work more stressful – in particular, those individuals who continued with their work career during the 5 year sabbatical, gaining new skills and experiences and in some cases extra degrees, etc.

This meant that these latter individuals returning were now overqualified for their old jobs and presented HR with an obvious dilemma.

Torc Response

Torc provided career coaching and counselling to the returning staff so they could better adapt to their old environment.

Quite often this entailed 2 strands. First, a programme of work to assist the individual come to terms with his/her return to the old job and second, a parallel series of actions to better prepare the individual to identify and navigate a passage to a new and more challenging role within the organisation. In the first instance, the emphasis was on assisting the individual partner with their manager to achieve a productive working relationship and to find scope within the existing position to utilise the new skills developed during the career break period.

Individuals were provided with a suite of self analysis instruments to assess their skills and career options, and when alternate positions arose elsewhere were prepared (mostly, in terms of CV development, networking role-plays and interview preparation) to strongly compete for these new positions.

The Result

Using the 2-strand approach outlined, the genuine shock & stress engendered with the returning individuals was quickly mitigated and positively reoriented to navigate a win-win outcome for the organisation and the individua

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