Dow’s new ReAction Program is helping people who have taken an extended career break return to the workforce. Individuals relaunching their careers often face obstacles that are more complex than regular job-searchers. They may need to build back confidence, reinvigorate their networks, and upskill or reskill – all on top of worrying whether they will still be able to balance family or personal needs.
The ReAction Program is aimed at individuals interested in returning to work after two or more years off for reasons such as military service; starting, raising or caring for a family or family members; community service; recovery from an illness; entrepreneurial ventures; continuing education; and other personal or professional pursuits. The program provides customized onboarding and orientation sessions and mentorships by experienced Dow business and functional leaders to help people transition into a full-time role. Just as important, managers are working with program participants to design a schedule that provides flexibility, if needed.
“People who have stepped out of the workforce for extended periods often have questions, such as: ‘Are my skills still relevant?’ ‘How do I get started?’ ‘How will I be there for my family?’” said Taesia Shello, global talent acquisition diversity leader at Dow. “The ReAction Program offers an integration period based on the needs of the person that helps them return to work and build a long-term career with Dow.”
Currently, the ReAction Program is being piloted among Dow’s Manufacturing & Engineering and Integrated Supply Chain groups in North America. For participants, the program’s mentorship helps them gain the skills and tools they need to be successful on the job, while also feel more connected and supported within their work group.
Candance Brooks, a senior Operations IT business process specialist at Dow, had 20 years of work experience when, in 2016, she moved to another state with her husband and became a work-at-home mom. Once her children reached school-age, she decided to return to the workforce.
“I searched over a year, and then I happened upon the ReAction Program,” said Brooks, who was part of the program’s first cohort in 2021. “It was exactly the program that I needed, as I was having great difficulty finding my next role. I have been granted an opportunity to work with a group of talented and diverse individuals at a global company. My mentors are supportive and experienced leaders. The ReAction Program has been an absolute blessing and a win for my career.”
Chelsie Lange, a Basics production coordinator at Dow, found the ReAction Program helped her return to a career at Dow after she left the company and decided to stay home to care for her two daughters.
“When I saw the ReAction Program position posted, I was excited for the opportunity to go back to Dow, and our family was in a better position for me to pursue a full-time opportunity,” Lange said. “Through different career opportunities, the ReAction Program brought to light the great culture and opportunities that Dow provides – and I’m grateful to be a part of it!”
For Dow, the ReAction Program is an opportunity to attract experienced, skilled and diverse workers. The program comes at a time when career breaks are becoming more commonplace, especially among millennials and younger generations. According to research by ManpowerGroup, 84% of millennials anticipate taking a career break for childcare, eldercare and other reasons.
“As a site leader, we are continuously looking for talented individuals with different perspectives and backgrounds,” said Nicholas Powell, site manufacturing director at Elizabethtown, Kentucky. “I am extremely excited about the ReAction Program and what it offers the individual, site and Dow.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a growing realization that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to the workday or a career path. In response, Dow has launched Design Your Day, which allows employees flexibility to choose when to work remotely and when to attend on-site activities based on project work and role needs.
Likewise, the ReAction Program is part of a cultural shift in which Dow teams are learning to be more hands-on in helping employees brush up their skills after career breaks and more agile in accommodating flexible schedules, said Shello.
“Make no mistake: we are in the manufacturing industry with 24-hour operations globally,” Shello said. “However, our people are our most important asset. To carry out our ambition to be the most innovative, customer-centric, inclusive and sustainable materials science company in the world, we realize flexibility in important. This program helps us think outside of the box and find that balance, where possible.”