Is it possible to return to work after five years? This was the question I asked myself many times before I applied to Lloyds Banking Group’s Returners programme. It was daunting to think of completing the application, going through the interview process and, most of all, if I’d even enjoy the resulting job.
I knew returning full-time was not an option but finding a part-time role wasn’t simple either. I would have to be in an organisation that practices and not just preaches inclusivity and flexibility. The ethos and values of the Group gave me the initial confidence to apply for a job with the organisation.
The Lloyds Banking Group Returners Programme
The testimonials on the returners page of the website showed how many applicants had managed to complete the Returner Programme and land a permanent role, and there were numerous examples of flexibility in both working pattern and location on the hub. I think the fact there is a successful programme is testament to the Group’s inclusivity.
The interview process was thoughtful, encouraging and truly inclusive. The questions were about me as a whole, focusing on both my personal and professional strengths. I was delighted then to meet my cohort who for various reasons had taken a break and shared the nervousness of managing work-life balance.
Finding the right balance
Lloyds Banking Group tapped into our familiarity of previous work life and provided various tools to help with the transition. I am an Asian mum with two kids under 10, and being their chauffeur – taking them to school, play dates and other activities - is almost a full-time job in itself. My spouse is in a busy job, and we have a large social circle, so I was aware that adding my work to the mix would be a big commitment.
I knew it wouldn’t be easy, so I decided to take small steps towards achieving a work-life balance, building my resilience and emotional wellbeing. The Returners Programme offered me just the right tools and provide me the suggestions to effectively manage both my work and home commitments.
The tools to succeed
One of the things I have done is write down all the tips, techniques and useful thoughts or quotes from my mentor on small notes and put them into a little bucket.
On a busy day I pick one of them which provides me the much-needed positive reiteration of my contributions to work and family. It’s also given impetus to my personal development.
Talking Talent is a great tool which the Group provides which, in addition to giving me the tips and tricks, also provides timelines on my planned development activities. There are two main sections: My Progress and Ask a Coach, which are both excellent sources of support. The Ask a Coach service every quarter is a professional and pragmatic approach to finding a solution. My progress section guides me through various topics ranging from setting priorities, boundaries, having a work-life balance, through to progressing in my career.
The wellness app Headspace is available to Lloyds Banking Group colleagues for free and offers wellness support that might be needed in a busy working week. I use the three- to-five minute meditations to clear my mind and take a quick break a few times during my working week.
I am pleased I joined the Returners Programme. It's over six months and I can confidently say it’s an inclusive and flexible organisation in the widest possible sense. I find my work as a project manager stimulating, challenging and rewarding. But the most important thing is that I have had the right support throughout to ease back into work. I’m truly enjoying my role and have a good work-life balance and look forward to making a career with Lloyds Banking Group on my side.