Clients ask, how can we help an employee return to work after maternity leave? New mothers are an incredibly valuable part of the talent pool. As an employer you have a responsibility to help them when they return to work in a way that doesn’t impact on their long-term career.
The first step in supporting women during and after their pregnancies is to ensure they think of their careers as a long term thing. Encourage them to see that having a baby isn’t the end of their career. If we assume an individual begins working at 22 and retires at 65, the time employees spend caring for young children is relatively brief. However, when a mother has had a baby which has been their only concern, they can forget they had a career beforehand.
Therefore, when a new mum returns to the workplace, have a conversation about her career goals. Make sure she knows the value she can add to the company and discover how she wants to move forwards. Some new mums may want to tread water while others will want to go straight back to what they were doing before they went on maternity. However, it’s important to encourage them to talk about it instead of just making an assumption for them.
It’s equally important to be accommodating around options with flexible working. Women with children are phenomenal time managers. Reassure them that dropping down to four days of work a week does not necessarily mean stepping off the career path.
Despite this, you should still set boundaries: make it easier for new mothers to request a reduction in working days or hours. Is it possible to allow some work time from home? There are plenty of technology platforms to use to share documents and information.
How can we help an employee return to work after maternity leave?
One of the simplest, cheapest and most effective things you can do as an employer is team the returner up with a mentor. Look for someone who has been through the same process maybe a year or two before. They know the company culture, can advise on practical things like topping up pension contributions and making sure bonus payments are up to date. They may also be able to help the new mother to navigate the emotional journey. This is a positive, easy win, and one that is often missed.
Finally, if you are still wondering how can we help an employee return to work after maternity leave, it’s important to look at the ecosystem around your returner. Co-workers should respect that she is coming back with lots of value to add. Ensure other employees are conscious of the business case for taking advantage of that talent.
What to do next?
Metis HR is a professional HR Consultancy based in the North West of England supporting clients across the country. We specialise in providing outsourced HR services to small and medium-sized businesses. Call us now on 01706 565332 to discuss how we may help you.