Why now is the best time for women to return to work

Returning to work after a career break can feel daunting, overwhelming and challenging. Those are all completely normal and valid feelings, shared by most people considering a transition back to the working world.

More than just about any time in history, now is the best time to transition back to work, so if you’ve been contemplating whether or not to begin your transition journey, read on for some encouragement to take the first step.

What is a career break?

A career break is defined as an extended time away from the paid workforce, typically between 2-30 years, however, it can be for a shorter period of time.

Most commonly, career breaks are taken by women with caregiving responsibilities, but there are a variety of reasons to have left the professional workforce, including:

  • Parental leave – to care for young children
  • Take care of elderly parents or other loved ones due to illness or disability
  • Travel
  • Establish your home with a military spouse after a new move
  • Further study
  • Re-establish roots after an ex-pat experience
  • Recover from an illness

During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw a disproportionate number of women leaving the workforce due to increased domestic work, unpaid care and homeschooling required during this time.

Why now is a great time for women to return to work

1. Enhanced flexibility across workplace cultures

One of the benefits to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic is the trend toward organisations fostering flexible working cultures. Initially forced due to mandated lockdowns, the shift to flexible working arrangements including working from home, choosing when to work from the office and adapting working hours based on other responsibilities, has stuck in many organisations.

This has created a more inclusive environment for the returnship demographic – particularly those who have left due to caring responsibilities – to transition back to work with a flexible working style that is suitable for them and their circumstances.

2. Increased employer appetite to hire returners

Women looking to return to the workforce are one of the most under-utilised pools of talent and employers are realising this at a growing rate. More and more, workplaces are implementing tailored returnship programs to support women in their transition back into the workforce.

In addition, there is a growing understanding around transferrable skills and moving past the limited mindset that a successful candidate needs to have worked in the exact same role with identical responsibilities. This expands the volume and variety of opportunities for re-entry, even if some time has lapsed since they last worked.

Organisations like Cenitex, an ICT provider for the Victorian Government, are actively and intentionally attracting women returning to the workforce into their organisation and truly walk the walk when it comes to offering a supportive and flexible working environment.

3. Taking a career break is the status quo

It’s 2022, taking a career break has become widely accepted and normalised. We’re seeing this reflected in platforms like LinkedIn implementing a feature to highlight your career break on your LinkedIn profile, shifting the sentiment from hiding career breaks, to sharing openly about them.

Where to start in transitioning back to work

If you’re considering stepping back into work, join the SheReturns community of women who are transitioning together. There are live digital events, resources and connection to opportunities to re-enter the workforce. Discover SheReturns and join for free here.


Check out what we’ve been up to and follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram