Alec Bashinsky is a National Leader in People & Performance at Deloitte and spoke to a future that works about their Return to Work program and WorkAgility Structure.

Alec Bashinsky - National Leader, People & Performance, Deloitte

Alec Bashinsky - National Leader, People & Performance, Deloitte


Return to Work is a 20-week part-time paid program aimed at assisting professionals who have been out of the workplace for an extended period of time. It is Deloitte’s new solution to tap into talent.

The part-time program will see participants work for four days a week, helping them transition back from their career break but also enable them to balance their other life priorities.

Alec Bashinsky, Deloitte’s National Partner for People & Performance said although open to men and women, the program was primarily aimed at helping women transition back to work.

“The Return to Work program is a proactive measure that came out of conversations at the Diversity Council of Australia where we decided to target talented women who had had families and wanted to reconnect,” he said.

“Workplaces around Australia are slow to realise there is a pool of talent that hasn’t been tapped into, particularly talented women who don’t feel like they can acclimatise back into work after having a family.

“In our sounding outs with our network of Deloitte alumni, we found many women felt they had been out of work for too long and therefore found it difficult to reconnect and reskill and that is what our program addresses.”

Return to Work participants will work with clients whilst receive support and training. This support and training takes a three-pronged approach, starting with a broad induction program that helps build hard, technical skills. External speakers are worked into the schedule to help participants update professional skills to get back into a workplace environment.

“We set up sessions that explain our direction and strategies to help align and update understanding of what has changed,” said Mr Bashinsky.

“We also do additional training around key technology skills that are now being utilised, such as our performance App StandOut, Yammer and our broader new tech platforms.”

The program also provides opportunities for networking with senior leadership that helps participants reconnect to the working landscape and make connections. Lastly, one-on-one sessions are dedicated to mentoring and coaching each individual.

The program will offer places in Melbourne and Sydney and is designed to help professionals achieve a permanent or contract role at the end of the 20 weeks. Return to Work has attracted over 450 applications to date.

Mr Bashinsky said Return to Work was an initiative part of their overall Work Agility Structure which fosters flexibility and agility in the team as a whole.

“Our approach is simple yet effective; we ask workers how they want to work at a team level,” he said.

In a typical team of eight at Deloitte, employees work on assignments that require setting mutual objectives from the outset and outlining what kind of team dynamic will be fostered – essentially how do you all want to work together?

“We call this ‘WorkAgility’ and it is really resonating amongst our people,” he said.

“What we hear back from our employees is one person is training for a triathlon and gets in a bit late in the mornings, another person is doing their MBA and is out of action to attend lectures. Another person does the pick-up and drop-off for their kids, one team member is an expert and is in for only three days and another worker is available five days a week 24/7.”

Rather than looking at these diverse lifestyles and time schedules and seeing a problem, Deloitte recognises diversity will continue to be part of the future of working pragmatically and cohesively.

“At times employees can feel guilty about continuing their education, or pursuing other passions such as triathlons, but we understand that this is conducive to employee wellbeing and engagement,” he said.

As the concept of flexible working becomes a giant in the human resource world, Deloitte is working to ensure that flexible working is not just about working from home but delivering results for their company, clients and employees.

“We let the client know this is how the team will work to deliver the best results.”

This is a whole-of-work initiative and a future that works commends the commitment demonstrated by Deloitte.


41% of workers said that flexibility in working arrangements was very important when finding or staying in a particular job? (2016 Snapshot of the Australian Workplace)