Women go on maternity leave all the time. And they come straight back into their jobs and everything is easy. Right? Wrong. Well, the first is right but the second statement is where we fall down.
As far as life events go, having a baby is up there with some of the most life-changing events. People are not prepared for how much this will impact their lives.
So much has changed for new parents and the thought of early mornings, not sleeping through the night, and not knowing how to cope after a complicated birth are common concerns in returning to work.
All of these questions left unaddressed however can turn in to fears, and not knowing where to go for the answers is enough to put women off returning to work.
Despite this, a study by PwC found that 76% of women on a career breaks do want to return to work.
So, what’s the secret to balancing work and family life?
First time mothers often hear nightmare stories from friends and other working mothers. As a result, anxiety levels rise and the prospect of returning to work feels daunting if not impossible.
A really simple way to address this is to talk.
By opening up dialogue in an open environment, employers can help to alleviate any concerns before employees return to work.
First thing to know is that you aren’t the first person to go on maternity leave and you won’t be the last! Good companies will use their wealth of knowledge around the common questions often asked and engage with soon-to-be-mums before, during and after maternity leave.
Take note from real-world examples
Computacenter recognised that it was essential to review its maternity policy, to not only encourage more women into the company but also retain the great talent it has.
In August 2017, the HR department ran a Baby Business workshop with the aim of helping women return to the workplace after having a baby.
Four women who were all midway through their maternity leave came together to attend the Baby Business workshop at Computacenter’s offices, with their babies in tow. The timing midway through their maternity leave was a deliberate choice as it gave the women a chance to discuss options with their new perspective in mind.
Many questions asked were answered during the group session, including finding out more information on managing finances, childcare vouchers, and flexible working options.
The biggest takeaway from the session was the sense of community in knowing that they weren’t the only person having certain thoughts and concerns, and that they could discuss any fears they had about returning to work in an open environment. Ultimately the women left feeling ready to embrace work at the end of their maternity leave.
In addition to the group workshop, the women had one to one conversations with their managers to discuss what they were looking for when they returned to work and how they could adapt working hours to the needs of their new family.
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As employers, people can often lose sight of the benefits of women who are returning to work are a period of leave – they are highly motivated, they want interesting and challenging work, and they very successfully set back into senior roles even after many years out.
In order for businesses to successfully help women return to the workplace after maternity leave, they must look for examples of pro-active employers in the industry and make a change.
Whether it’s baby business workshops, maternity coaching or just being open to a flexible conversation, try a new way of engaging your employees who are going through the biggest life-changing event.
Sourced by Lizee Butler, HR business partner at Computacenter
The Women in IT Awards is the technology world’s most prominent and influential diversity program. On 22 March 2018, the event will come to the US for the first time, taking place in one of the world’s most prominent business cities: New York. Nominations are now open for the Women in IT USA Awards 2018. Click here to nominate