It is the toughest, scariest day for any working mum. No matter how well their company has handled maternity leave, there is always the “day one” of back to work and a mixed bag of emotions that go with it. There are a few simple things a business can do, that will go a long way in helping new mums back to the workplace.
Keep Communications Open
Before, during and after maternity leave, communication is imperative. It helps to avoid any issues that may arise and lets your staff know that as an employer you are continually thinking of them. Open communications come in the form of developing a precise plan of who will manage work while your employee is on leave will put her mind at ease before she leaves.
As well as a contact while they are on their maternity leave, to check in on her and the baby. As she returns to work a new mum, it is important to communicate changes that happened when she was away. Helping her understand what has occurred in her absence; what’s the same, what’s new? etc. At times it can be challenging to jump head first into the workforce after such a long period away and realise things kept on moving on without her.
It’s also essential to have a solid plan for transitioning work back to your employee. Such as a few days playing catching up, and then a progressive system of when she should take back certain duties. This makes it easy for both the employee and others who may have been helping cover her duties while she was away so they can understand the role that everyone will play going forward.
One of the easiest but most appreciated things to do for a returning mum to the workplace to build their confidence. Quelling any insecurities, they may have. Afterall, coming back to work is an intensely personal journey that will be filled with good and bad feelings.
It can be just to acknowledge that they are back and they were missed. So they can see that you understand that this transition is hard and that you care about them. It can be just a quick word at their desk or a more formal sit down meeting. Either way, the meaning behind the message should be to say ‘we are so happy you are back, you are important to us’.
This may seem a simple task but after some months being a new mum, where most attention is focused on the baby, to have an acknowledgement of their importance can be a huge confidence boost. Likewise, regular checks in and providing positive feedback on work that has been done since her return will build further confidence helping them to quickly transition into the full swing of their role before maternity leave. As an employer, you can help new mums transition back into the workplace with a little bit of appreciation and confidence building.
When maternity leave is over, a mum goes back to work. But her life is hardly back to normal; it’s irrevocably changed. Certainly, every business is different with the level of flexibility they can provide a new mum. Some might be able to work out work from home options, flexi time work, or maybe just a general understanding that sometimes, she might be a tad late or have to leave early. A level of flexibility on return to work, no matter how small will be a tremendous help and reassurance to your employee.
A lot of the time, the best way to help new mums back into the workplace is just to understand that sometimes having a job makes it hard to be a parent and how this may affect your employee in the workplace. Simply be understanding and considerate of these feelings.