There is often a disconnect in the business world between what new mothers experience and what is often spoken about. So much of our experience is often hidden or kept in secret, for fear it will damage our corporate image. Parenthood is hard. Being a working parent is doubly challenging. But that doesn’t mean it’s not possible.
The Benefits for Business
By putting actionable steps in place that help new parents better return to work, companies will see two major benefits for their business:
- Employees will become more loyal and grateful. When you respond to the human needs of the employee, they recognize that and it makes them want to stay and sing the praises of their employer.
- Employees snap back to being more productive and more honest. Communication goes from guarded to collaborative. Trust is earned and employees are now more than ever motivated to give their best work.
When you ask some mothers about their experience transitioning back to work, they’ll report that there was no no transition. They simply were expected to pick up where they left off. But as any parent will tell you, having a baby (or two in my case!) changes you. If you want to go back to work, you are not the same person that you were when you left. There is a misconception that you will be.
In fact, you’re a better, more well-equipped employee. You have a new perspective on life. And simply by the fact of being a new mother, you have a new mindset, and you have a new outlook on how you see life altogether. So for companies to believe that the person that is going to come back is coming back as the same person, it’s not reality. Nor, does it need to be.
How Do We Create Healthy Transitions?
Companies can benefit from bridging that transition. Right now, typically you’ll have an HR meeting, which is about contract signing, about your new terms and conditions, discussions that are all very commercial, very much about business.
But there is no coaching on how to come back to work, about the needs of the person — how to bring her back softly so that when she’s back, she is back fully. Every country is different. Some countries, you have six weeks off, so you probably don’t have to have those logistical struggles. But for other countries where you have a longer time out, there is still a lot of work to be done on how to bring someone back to work, after the time off that she had and make sure that she is okay.
Offering greater flexibility of work hours is a great place for companies to begin. Maybe someone can start earlier in the morning. Or they can finish earlier in the evening. Most of the time these shifts are very regimented and it’s difficult for new parents to navigate.
Practical Ways Corporations Can Create Better Work Environments for Parents
It’s understandable that companies cannot cater to individual needs. But what companies can do is to set up protocols to be there to transition people back to work, to really take the time that is needed to bring that person back so that they can be 100% efficient the day that they are back at work. Most of us have seen someone go back to work too soon. Their productivity is low, their head is simply not at work. Perhaps the woman has not healed properly, emotionally they are still with their babies or they simply haven’t been sleeping. So if the sleep of the mother is not there, how can she be efficient during the day?
There are so many variables. You’re breastfeeding, you’re pumping, you may be suffering from postpartum depression — there are so many things that are still affecting your body and brain. By giving just a little bit of extra support, you can not only help this new parent transition back to the workplace, but help them to be more aligned and more productive during their work hours.