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A Year in Review: Defining Moments in 2021

By Elyce Middlebrooks

2021 was yet another record-breaking and defining year for iRelaunch. We doubled the size of our team over the last two years in response to the explosive employer demand for new career reentry programs and the scaling of existing programs. We advised dozens of leading global employers on the design, sourcing strategy, stakeholder training, onboarding content and additional critical factors in launching and expanding their programs. Our consulting practice is now global and we regularly work with relaunchers and return to work programs all over the world.

The State of Utah launched the very first public sector return to work program and we were proud to partner with them in the pilot and expansion of this effort.

We ran customized onboarding training sessions for hundreds of recruiters, managers, HR business partners and other program stakeholders in addition to cohort and individual coaching sessions for the relauncher participants in these programs.

This year we hosted our 30th iRelaunch Return to Work Conference, a milestone in itself, as we now have had more than 11,000 attendees at our flagship event. Our two 2021 virtual conferences connected more than 2,400 relaunchers with 34 visionary organizations for recruiting and hiring into their return to work programs and job opportunities. Moving to a virtual model for our Return to Work Conference means that employers and relaunchers anywhere in the country, and even internationally, can participate.

We also hosted our inaugural iRelaunch Virtual Employer Summit, bringing together our employer community to discuss the latest trends, innovations and best practices in career reentry programming. Leaders at employers running career reentry programs spoke on the most compelling topics in launching and running return to work programs, in addition to benefiting from the subject matter expertise of iRelaunch.

We continued to raise awareness of career reentry programs and furthered our efforts in partnering with motivated employers through the STEM Reentry Task Force that we co-founded and co-lead with the Society of Women Engineers.

On the social media front, we saw incredible growth in our followers of over 70% and significantly higher engagement among our community members. Notably, over 66,000 people tuned in to hear iRelaunch CEO and Co-founder Carol Fishman Cohen on career influencer and Senior Editor for LinkedIn News Andrew Seaman’s LinkedIn Live event for his GetHired newsletter. During this event, Carol and Andrew discussed "returnships" and how to overcome the challenges of career gaps.

In August, we were extremely proud to reveal our completely overhauled and rebranded iRelaunch website which incorporated significant improvements, including better overall organization of iRelaunch’s content and enhanced user experience.

We grew our active and engaged relauncher community to over 100,000 relaunchers. We launched our new "Relauncher of the Month” series, featuring 12 diverse and unique success stories. We continued to develop our popular weekly newsletter the iRelaunch Return to Work Report, packed with announcements of return to work programs and job opportunities in addition to events, success stories, and new content.

Our award-winning podcast 3, 2, 1 iRelaunch continued its weekly releases focusing on return to work strategies, advice and success stories. We have released nearly 220 episodes and have almost 400,000 downloads. Most importantly, relaunchers tell us how meaningful, valuable and inspiring these podcasts have been for them and how they have impacted their relaunches in a significant way - meaning the podcasts helped them get hired and relaunch their careers.

Now we are building on this momentum by launching a second podcast - the 3, 2, 1 iRelaunch Employer Edition - exclusively for leaders in our employer community who are running returnships or return to work programs or are anticipating launching a future program.

Consistent with our role as industry pioneers, iRelaunch continues to drive and influence the direction and expansion of career reentry programs and programming. In 2021, we were featured in numerous press articles and released several significant and high profile articles including a white paper on "Men Who Relaunch: No Longer a Parenthetical" and two critically important pieces featured in the Harvard Business Review, "Companies Should Do More to Normalize Career Breaks" and "Return-to-Work Programs Come of Age."

To continue our efforts to ensure our relauncher community has diverse representation across all identities, in 2021 we focused on partnering with two national organizations that support enriching and empowering the lives of Black and African American women. Additionally, we made a concerted effort to reach those with varying reasons or natures of career breaks, such as those in the military-connected community. We facilitated and participated in panel discussions on our returnship programs and how veterans and military spouses may benefit from our return to work opportunities given their unique career continuity challenges. As a result, our talent pool of relaunchers constitutes a more diverse and representative workforce.

At iRelaunch we have always worked flexibly and remotely so the pandemic did not change our company model. We did put in extra effort to strengthen our co-working relationships. We have not only grown as a team, but we have grown as professionals. The team participated in Unconscious Bias Training. This opportunity led to engaging discussions on race, gender, and equality, strengthened our perspective taking skills, and deepened our awareness and empathy for each other as teammates and individuals. We also prioritized team-building activities that included virtual wine tasting, charcuterie board making, and a cooking class.

Amidst the challenges presented by the pandemic, we were able to work with more employers and get more relaunchers back to work this year than ever before. Our work, which has always been extremely gratifying, took on additional meaning and significance felt by every one of our team members. Our commitment is to continue to serve our employer and relauncher population in an effort to bring relauncher communities back to work in record numbers.

With gratitude,

The iRelaunch Team

2021 Year in Review
Check out our Year in Review Infographic!

Don't relaunch alone!

Join our growing relauncher communities on Facebook and LinkedIn. For more great guidance on your relaunch and updates on when return to work programs are accepting applications, events for relaunchers and more, be sure to sign up for our Return to Work Report and follow us on social media to stay informed!

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