Zynga's New Returnship Program Will Help You Make a Smooth Transition
It can feel almost impossible to get back to work after a career break, but some companies are making it easier with dedicated return to work programs.
Even though the corporate world may have been slow on the uptake, companies know there's a lot of untapped, experienced talent eager to get back to work — they just need some help with the transition.
Our partner company Zynga understands this all too well. That's why this fall, they're launching a Returnship Program for anyone who's been out of the workforce for at least 2 years to care for a family member.
A global leader in interactive entertainment with a mission to connect the world through games, Zynga knows that a diverse team is key to achieving that mission.
To learn more about the value Zynga sees in team members who've taken career breaks, I sat down with Tracey Thomas, Manager of Learning & Development, to talk about why Zynga is launching a Returnship Program, the results they hope to see, and how you can apply.
Why are you launching this program?
Tracey Thomas (TT): As an organization, we are committed to shaping the future of gaming to more closely resemble the makeup of our players. Because the people who take time off to care for a family member are women, we saw this as an opportunity to give them a chance to build a career in gaming, but also help us diversify our pipeline with highly qualified and skilled candidates.
Returnees are highly qualified, highly experienced individuals who have worked in their industries for at least five years, and are motivated and ready to get back to work.
The challenge that these individuals face when they're going back to work is that they're often overlooked because of that gap on their resumes.
It's not that they don't have extraordinary qualifications to do the job, or even that they haven't continued to build up their skills while they were away. It's that extended time away is often seen as an unknown by recruiting teams and hiring managers. Our hope is to help candidates overcome that hurdle and thrive at Zynga.
How does the Returnship Program work?
TT: The Returnship itself takes place over 16 weeks. It's a pretty unique program that operates a lot like an internship, except that the candidates are experienced.
Participants will receive training and support from us as program organizers, as well as from role-specific mentors, who will help them get up to speed and do meaningful work from day one.
We're running the program in conjunction with Path Forward, and they will also provide several workshops throughout the program that will enable candidates to successfully re-enter the workforce and build their community.
At the end of the 16 weeks, assuming it's a good fit, they'll have the option to join us full time. Even if it doesn't work out, they'll get support from us as they look for another role. We'll help them refine their resumes and prepare for interviews with other companies.
And you know, at the end of the day, they have 16 weeks of really, really good working experience with a successful, supportive company. But of course we're hoping that they stay with us!
What do you want to see as a result of this program?
TT: I am excited for the opportunity to give capable people a path back to work and I would love it if they found their careers with Zynga. I hope they feel that they got a lot of support during the program.
But beyond that, I would love to see a shift in the paradigm in how we recruit people. I hope it encourages our hiring managers to take a second look at candidates who have non-traditional career paths and realize that they would be fantastic value-adds to the team.
Why should women participate in this program?
TT: This is such an innovative and supportive way to re-embark on a career after taking time off, especially for moms.
As a woman and a mother, I identify with this experience. Once we take time off, there's this confidence issue, especially in technology where things move so fast and it's already a super competitive industry.
This is a program that is designed for you. We want to hear from you. We believe you can be uniquely successful at Zynga and add value. We've already done that part where in a traditional hiring process, you have to prove yourself. We believe in the program because we believe in you and the work you've put into your career. After you apply, we'll work together to get you trained up for you to do great work.
On top of that, this is an opportunity to build community with others going through exactly the same thing that you are. So you're not going to be the only person in your organization who has taken some time off and is just returning.
We've made the commitment as an employer to create this inclusive environment where belonging and development are priorities. We've created learning and development opportunities specifically to help you get ramped up over 16 weeks, where in a traditional re-entry situation you wouldn't have that adjustment time. We are coming to this program with the understanding that you'll need time to get up to speed, but once you are, you are going to be fantastic and you are going to make a fantastic contribution to our team.
What tips do you have for applicants?
1) I really want to encourage people to apply, even if they feel like they don't meet every single piece of criteria that's listed on the job description. Women have a tendency to shy away if they don't meet 100% of the criteria, and we want to discourage that type of thinking because we may see value in you that you may not even realize. It's worth it to just take the time to apply and let us reach out to you.
2) When you are refining your resume for a role like this, show off the skills that you developed when you were taking your time off. So if, for example, you organized an international trip, there's a lot of key skills involved in that, and that's a really good thing to put on your resume. If you had daily tasks that you did when you were caring for a family member, those are great ways to show your coordination skills. They show your management and people skills, so play up those experiences that may not be directly related to the role, but that have some similarities to the leveling of the role if you're going to be managing a project/program/people. That's the best way to stand out for hiring managers because those are the types of skills that are transferable no matter what industry you're in. Even if it was for caring for a family member.
"I'm interested! How do I apply?"
TT: Check out the active listings on our site. As long as there is a listing on our website, you should continue to apply. Once we've filled those roles, we'll pull them down so there won't be any expired listings. But if they're up there, take a chance, reach out to us, apply.
The only set criteria is that you have to have been out of the workforce for two years to care for a family member, and worked for five years in your industry prior to that.
As long as you meet those criteria, we want to hear from you. Don't be shy.
What resources does Zynga offer parents?
TT: Zynga is an amazing employer for parents. I'm a mother of two and I couldn't be more thrilled with the resources at my office in Austin. I get to work remotely, and Zynga also provides a caregiving benefit, meaning they subsidize 15 days of back-up care throughout the year.
Zynga offers one of the best PTO schedules I have seen in the industry. Most of our studios and roles are flexible about working from home. It depends on the role and the gaming cycles.
And if you have a situation that requires you to be away from the office, Zynga is fantastic about that. There are amazing maternity and paternity benefits as well.
So I would say that Zynga is just super family friendly. In the Austin studio we do a number of family-related events on the weekend, like going to the lake or a water park.
What's your favorite part about working at Zynga?
TT: Actually, one of my favorite things about working at Zynga is that it is so family friendly. It makes it really easy for me as a mother to lean into my career without having to sacrifice my role as a mother and a wife.
Aside from that, it's just a really fun place to work. All of our offices are casual and laid back. We're working on games all day long, which I think is just such a fun opportunity. We work with really great partnerships and IPs, so we're working with the top names in the entertainment industry. And we were also just named the number one mobile gaming company by Pocket Gamer!
Ready to apply?
Be sure to check out Zynga's page on PowerToFly to learn more about their open roles, benefits (like flexible hours and dog-friendly offices!), and approach to diversity and inclusion (50% of their board members are women!).
- Culture and Application Process at Zynga - PowerToFly Blog ›
- Culture and Application Process at Zynga - PowerToFly Blog ›
In the “Great Resignation,” an estimated 47 million employees (and counting) voluntarily quit their jobs. The job market still hasn’t recovered from the unprecedented “quit rate” of 3.3% at the Great Resignation’s peak. Now, about 50% of the workforce are “quiet quitters” according to a Gallup poll — meaning, half of workers are disengaged at work and do only the minimum required of their job.
Having engaged talent is a competitive advantage for companies in today’s work environment. Replacing an employee who’s handed in their two-weeks notice can, after all, cost your company 21% of the employee’s annual salary. Employee retention strategies — ones that go beyond a box of donuts in the breakroom — are key to keeping workers engaged in the workplace. But given that overly played-out retention tactics can be ineffective at best and make your company look insincere at worst, it’s important to prioritize the right strategies. To that end, let’s go over some new and improved employee retention strategies that you may not have tried yet.
In this article, you'll find:
- Why employee retention strategies fail
- The best employee retention strategies
- Your employee retention strategy is your DEI initiative
Why employee retention strategies fail
There are plenty of employee retention strategy examples out there, but efforts can fall short. For your employee retention strategies project to be successful, you need to avoid these four common pitfalls.
1. Not delivering on promises. If you say you’re going to do something, follow up on it. Consistency is key to building employee retention strategies. Don’t ask employees to be honest about how they're feeling at work and then ignore their input. Or worse, promise big reform and fall short with token changes.
2. No trust. Studies indicate that “quiet quitting” is largely due to the relationship between employee and boss. Managers need the time, skills, and training to build solid relationships with staff. There are resource forums for people leaders to share ideas. Using tried-and-true best practices is the best strategy to build trust.
3. Siloed initiatives. Employee retention strategies can’t just live in HR. The moment they become siloed within one department or position, they fail. Employee retention strategies need to be a priority in every department and at every level.
4. No resources. Employee retention strategies need resources. To put it plainly, unfunded initiatives don’t work. Employees should be compensated for extra work such as sitting on an employee retention committee or putting together a workplace social. Likewise, pay raises and compensation should be a central part of the conversation. Remember, one of the main issues for quiet quitters is doing extra work for no extra pay.
The best employee retention strategies for 2022
With the don’ts out of the way, let’s move on to the best employee retention strategies you can start implementing today.
Listen to your employees
Well-run companies spend time and effort collecting feedback and customer satisfaction information. But what about employees? Managers need to ask, “how’s my driving?” Having data is critical to understanding how your employees are affected and making the necessary changes in order for employee retention strategies to take off. Send out an anonymous workplace survey asking about stress levels, feelings of creativity, people’s sense of inclusion, and how connected they are with their managers. If you’re not sure what to measure, start with a couple in-depth interviews. See what people want to talk about. The responses in the interviews will give you the basis for your wider survey.
If you ask your employees to be honest in giving feedback, management needs to be honest and transparent too. Acknowledge publicly the challenges the company faces based on what your employees have told you. This is the first step in accountability. Be transparent about compensation, pay raises, and benefits. Did you realize it is perfectly legal for employees to openly discuss compensation? This traditional taboo is becoming a common water cooler conversation. Social media is informing workers how to advocate for themselves. Meet them where they are. Actions speak louder than words.
Recognize and reward people, not just numbers
Over 1 in 5 employees does not feel valued at work. Feeling valued means knowing that your work is worthwhile and desirable. Watching the same sales people get rewarded for hitting their numbers again and again can be demoralizing for those who go comparatively unrecognized. Know your team and what they’re working on. Openly celebrate different kinds of triumphs, big and small, and be specific when you do. Helping people feel seen takes more than a generic “good job.”
Be flexible about work
Rethink how, where, and how long we do work. Research shows that 52% of workers prefer a hybrid remote-office work model. Employees even prefer it over a 10% pay raise. Employers must respond to this need as part of honing effective employee retention strategies.
And, as far as flexibility goes, time ownership is a massive benefit to offer employees — including by enabling them to work fewer days. Iceland is a leader in experimenting with the 4-day work week. Icelandic companies found it reduced burnout while improving work-life balance. Consider flexible arrangements that have proven results like these. Imagine how teams can be ambassadors for the company when they enjoy a new normal.
Employees that can’t see a clear career path within their company will look elsewhere to grow. The longer an employee stagnates in a position, the more their likelihood of leaving increases. Managers need to regularly work with each employee to envision their growth. Movement can be within their same position or laterally, as well. Give employees a discretionary budget for ongoing education and skills enhancement. Encourage projects and rotations with different departments to learn new skills.
Dust off that DEIB initiative
The best employee retention strategies are ones that are formed through a DEIB lens. DEIB strategies can be innovative for employee retention, as they (should) focus on all the things that make everyone supported, safe, and valued in the workplace. DEIB is, after all, not about making special accommodations for marginalized people; it’s about making the workplace better for everyone.
Your best employee retention strategy is a strategic DEIB initiativeDEIB initiatives make apt springboards for a number of successful employee retention strategies by listening to talent, creating custom work environments, and making employees across identities feel valued. Focus your efforts on DEIB, and employee retention will be one of many positive outcomes. PowerToFly has expert DEIB consultants that can help you jump start your DEIB-informed employee retention plan.
💎 Want to thrive as a customer success manager? Watch the video to the end to get some advice on how to do it.
📼Every customer success team has to follow some steps to achieve efficiency. Play this video to get three top tips that every manager in the SaaS industry should keep in mind. You'll hear from Miki Lager, Director of Customer Success at Tackle, who shares her own experience and knowledge.
📼 Customer familiarity for success. Tip #1: Know your customer. Understand their business. There are three steps in knowing how to navigate that. First, don't make it so operational. Build a true relationship with the client. Understand who are their competitors, what are the challenges they're facing, what's their true mission at heart, and how are they hoping to achieve that. Next, truly understand who the core team is that you should be working with. And finally, make sure to understand their key strategic and revenue goals.
📼Achieve customer success by delegating. Tip #2: Co-manage your customer. Not one person owns the client relationship at your company. Lead with others. Make sure to bring other stakeholders in, so that you can make sure the customer is on their path to success and that they can scale with your business solution. Team up with sales. Build a really strong relationship with your support team. Partner with the product team. The customer needs to understand where your business is headed in the future quarters so that they can plan accordingly, but also for your product team to then understand where the customer's product roadmap is headed, so you can align on strategy and best practices for that customer.
Customer Roadmap To Success - Tip #3: Define A Customer Journey
Have a defined customer journey. If the customer doesn't know where they're heading, it's going to cause some problems. Give them a clear roadmap to success. You can always adjust milestones as needed, based on different goals and different initiatives that you're working on with them. Once you have the customer journey defined, you can figure out which milestones align with the growth strategy the customer has in mind.
📨 Are you interested in joining Tackle? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get to Know Miki Lager
She’s passionate about building client success teams for rapidly growing SaaS organizations. She’s been a leader at small to medium-sized companies, supporting the life cycle of startups through acquisition, and integration. If you are interested in a career at Tackle, you can connect with Miki on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to mention this video!
More About Tackle
Tackle enables software companies to accelerate and operationalize the use of Cloud Marketplaces like AWS, Microsoft, Google Cloud, and Red Hat, without the need for significant engineering resources. Their platform and team come together to make it easier for customers to build, grow, and scale their Marketplace businesses. Tackle was born and built as a remote organization and welcomes others who believe remote companies are the way companies will be built into the future. They believe that everyone has an opportunity to learn and grow in their community.
Nestlé would like to invite you to their Supply Chain virtual recruiting info session on September 29th from 4-5PM EST. Sign up for this event with leaders from our Supply Chain team to get an insider’s view on what it’s like to work at one of Gartner’s top-ranked supply chains for 2022 and the world’s largest food and beverage organization!
To say that Nazanin (Nazy) Brown and her family lead active lives is a bit of an understatement.
“We've got four young children and all of them are in multiple sports throughout the school year, as well as the summer,” she explains. “My husband and I are both coaches, so a lot of our time goes from work to home, out to the field to coach or watch games, and then back home for showers, dinner, and bed.”
With an always-on-the-go home life, it was important to Nazy to have a career that is stimulating but also allows her to be present in the lives of her children.
We sat down with Nazy to learn how she has mastered work-life balance as a Contracting Officer within the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency while she keeps her busy household running smoothly.
From Crime TV Fan to Special Agent
At a young age, Nazy loved crime TV shows, which influenced her choice to study forensic psychology. She went on to earn a master’s degree in the subject, where she got some exposure to federal government agencies.
“During my master's degree, we had a lot of recruiters come to our program,” she recounts. “One of the recruiters from an intelligence agency told us that they often hired people from our program as special agents.”
Nazy is also fluent in Farsi, and in addition to her choice of master's program, this made her an ideal candidate for many agencies.
“I began interviewing for special agent roles based on my Farsi skills,” she reveals. “I got a few job offers, and I landed a job as an entry-level contract specialist in the private sector.”
Working for a government contractor, Nazy quickly advanced in her career and eventually became a Senior Contracting Negotiator for Lockheed Martin — and she was loving it.
“I just really liked it and thought it was a great field to be in,” she says.
And while her career advanced, so did her personal life. She became a young mother with increasing responsibilities at home, which led her to be more mindful of where she was dedicating her time.
“At that point, I was putting in so many hours — it's not a 40-hour work week,” she admits. “It wasn't uncommon for me to sometimes work weekends, especially during proposal season.”
As Nazy continued to pile on the overtime, she saw that she wasn’t able to be the mom she wanted to be.
“I wanted to be able to cut work off when I'm at home,” she recalls. “I didn't want to be that mom that comes home and is on her laptop. This was when I realized that having a job that is strictly limited to just 40 hours a week would be best for our family.”
A Parent-Compatible Workplace
Through friends, Nazy learned more about working in the public service and realized that not only would she not have to work overtime, but it would also allow her to work close to her children.
“Many agencies have onsite daycares,” she notes. “I knew that would help so much with commuting and my stress level, as well as the cost. That was my number one reason to jump into the federal government.”
So, Nazy applied for a role that looked interesting and soon found herself working as a Contract Specialist in the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. The onsite daycare took in her oldest, who was then a toddler, and promised a spot to her second child, who was on the way.
“Having my children onsite with me instead of having to drop them off in another part of the city before work every day pretty much changed my entire life,” she reflects.
With her childcare issues solved and a manageable number of working hours, Nazy was able to focus more on her career development and explore her options. It was her husband, who works in the Intelligence Community (IC), who convinced her to consider switching to intelligence.
“My husband told me that the IC is just a different animal, and he was right. The contracting is different. The mission is amazing. So I decided to look into the IC,” she says.
Applying for roles in the IC required her to rework her entire application package, but her preparation paid off when she landed a role as a Contracting Officer at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA).
“Since I've come to the IC, I've been able to broaden my skills,'' remarks Nazy. “It's an entirely different contract writing system, and the IC’s mission and impact are far greater in size and scope, which has really expanded my knowledge. I've learned so much in the three years that I've been here,” she says.
The Secrets to Work-Life Balance for Working Parents
Over the past two and a half years, working from home became the norm for some parents. For Nazy, this was not an option because of the sensitive nature of the data she handles at NGA — and she actually prefers it this way.
“I like the fact that I can get my work done without interruptions from my kids. And when I go home, I take my lanyard off, hang it up, and I go right into mom mode,” she says.
For other parents looking to have this same work-life balance, Nazy offers the following tips:
- Look for jobs with short commutes. Commuting to work for an hour each way might not seem like a lot in the beginning, but over time it can take a toll”, Nazy warns. “Try to get everything set up in your local area as close as you can. In an online job search, set the parameters to five or ten miles from home, max.”
- Find an organization that offers practical support to working parents. “I don't think a lot of people realize that many government agencies offer onsite childcare,” she shares. “I've had four young children who all went through them and I have nothing but good things to say about them. So consider an employer that offers this, instead of the commercial child care centers, which are double the price.”
- Have food prep on point. Between work and her children’s sports activities, Nazy can’t cook something from scratch every night of the week. “I start the week on prepped meals. By Thursday, we're finishing everything that’s in the fridge, and then on Friday we order something or go out to eat,”
- Take advantage of employer wellness offerings. “You need to take care of yourself as a mom, '' she advises. “NGA gives us three hours a week for physical fitness training, pilates, or yoga classes, which are all provided at work. Taking advantage of that during the work day is so much easier than trying to work out at home.”