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SNR is excited to launch a new series Advice From Leaders (AFL) where we chat with industry leaders on workplace themes and topics.  This month we chatted with Work Evolution's Tara Dragon.  

Name of Organization:  Work Evolution, est. January 2018

Owner/Founder: Tara Dragon

Work Evolution, located in Edmonton, has evolved the way professionals work. As the workforce changes, organizations must change as well; this is where Work Evolution comes in to support both! Work Evolution assists organizations in understanding available options to ensure employee retention through flexible work and engagement opportunities with professional candidates.

While parents of young families are one main demographic, Work Evolution supports people at the end of their careers (i.e. those who want a bridge job, want to retire or travel, do something meaningful, etc) as well as millennials who are looking for a different style of work.

Background

Tara Dragon holds a Human Resources degree and worked as a partner at an Information Management Consulting firm where she was responsible for consulting and client/consultant management for northern Alberta. After taking time off to raise her son three years ago, Dragon returned to work and negotiated terms that worked with her and being a new mom. She mentions that she was only able to do this because of her experience and expertise in the IM industry. Over time, Dragon’s schedule and flexibility changed with clients’ demands, but what remained consistent was the opportunity to put together project teams using consultants with varying desires for their own flexibility. As such, Dragon recognizes the importance of properly implemented flexible work programs, thus inspiring Work Evolution.

Where do you see opportunities on the company side for returners to work?

While companies must recognize that there is extensive data about the best places to work, such data must be considered when creating a desirable work environment to retain valuable employees. Millennials, for example, are often attracted to opportunities that offer flexibility. Organizations with appealing return to work programs are pertinent in employee retention. Dragon explains returning to work in a two-pronged approach.

If someone is returning to previous employment (ex. Returning from maternity leave), there is tremendous data that supports the idea that organizations should allow flexibility for returners. This is due to the costs (both direct and indirect) associated with replacing someone who leaves permanently. As described by Dragon, direct hiring costs include searching, hiring, and training, while indirect costs include team disruption and lost or hindered client relationships. It is in best financial interest for the company to hold onto employees as they have extensive company knowledge and an established client base. Dragon also believes that allowing flexibility develops organizational loyalty and can help an organization become a preferred workplace.

Conversely, there are those who are not returning to previous employment. Those who have been off work for an extended period of time, but want to re-enter the workforce in a different industry, have a lot to offer any organization. These individuals offer stability, determination, and commitment to an organization as they are ready to work and have thought long about it. In addition to stability and work ethic, one who chooses to work also brings experience including education and acquired skills. Further, if time away from work was needed to raise a family, it is likely that these individuals have developed skills (i.e. time management, patience) that they may not have had previously. Whatever the reason, those who have taken time away from work can be a company’s next best asset!

What are some of the challenges returners to work face?

The greatest challenge faced by returners to work is the utilization of automated systems to vet candidates. Large employment gaps in resumes can automatically exclude these candidates, resulting in a lost chance for them to explain their time away from work.  Essentially, this is an automated way of judgment regarding the quality of the things being done in the time away from work.

In addition, some organizations are biased and choose to hire someone with less experience, but a more consistent work resume. It is unfair to assume that a candidate with a resume gap does not have the necessary skills and experience for a job position.

Further, those who are returning to work after extensive time off may be challenged with a lack of technical skill in their industry of choice. As technology is continually advancing and business operations are increasing their reliability on technological advancements, it can be difficult for those who have not been exposed to utilizing technology in a business capacity.

Where do you see industry going with respect to planning for returners to work?

Dragon mentions that the industry itself must make a move. It is apparent that the United Kingdom, Western Europe and some organizations in the United States, New Zealand, and Australia are much more evolved in employing appealing return to work programs. It is simply only a matter of time until Canada catches up.