We’ve got a valued staff member returning from maternity leave and so I decided to do a bit of research on how to best support this transition.
While doing a bit of research for this article I was shocked to learn a study by the Australian human rights commission found one in two (49%) mothers reported experiencing discrimination in the workplace at some point during pregnancy, parental leave or on return to work.
It had me thinking that this demonstrates we still need to be doing it better and there are some simple ways we can provide support during this transition.
So what does best practise look like if this is the case and how can we best support a parent coming back into their role?
I had a few key findings and thoughts from my own experience and through countless conversations with other parents.
1. Give them their job back
You can often feel like you lose some of your identity and old life when you become a parent. Don’t make them feel like they are losing their job too.
Having a newborn or new addition to the family takes some adjustment so it’s important to check in with the employee and show some compassion during this time. Let them ease on back to the familiar so they have something they know well to come back into.
2. Make some allowances to make it easier
Maybe you could offer a shortened day for their first day of daycare and returning to work? Or a working from home day? Ask if their hours work or if they need to discuss drop off and pick up arrangements and working from home if necessary.
Perhaps you could connect them with a Business Coach who specialises supporting new parents as a way of going the extra mile. A few allowances goes a long way as a new parent.
3. Make sure you have the right facilities to support their feeding choices
Offer them a nice quiet and private space should they choose to breastfeed and need a place to express during the day. It is so much nicer for you to offer and arrange this than to make them ask. I’ve heard of women who were too uncomfortable to ask and ended up sneaking off to the toilets so please ask the question.
Many of us have experienced the tearful drive to work at a daycare drop off, years of snotty noses and sickness and not to mention readjusting to working after sleepless nights. I’ve found having the right support network and people around you during this time can make the process so much easier.
Making a few thoughtful adjustments can ensure that your returning staff member feels supported and appreciated returning to you after gaining all those extra skills through their journey into parenthood.