Here at PerkSpot, we were so excited to welcome back our Director of Marketing, Whitney Sattel, who recently returned to work after her maternity leave. Her return encouraged us to dive deeper into what it takes to create a successful transition back into the workplace, ensuring that women who want to stay are supported in doing so. It often goes unrealized, but a good plan that helps working moms return to work is absolutely crucial. When a plan like that is lacking, the results can be devastating to a company. In fact, a study by the Maven Clinic says 75% of new moms are excited to return to work after their maternity leave – yet 43% of them report that they ended up leaving that job in the end.
It was important to all of us PerkSpotters, but especially our HR team, to assist Whitney in transitioning back as smoothly as possible. Here are 4 things we learned about how HR managers, and all coworkers, can help new moms who are returning to work.
1. Communicate Effectively
Make things easier by creating a timeline and sharing it with your returning employee and her team well in advance. Make sure that you collaborate with the expecting mom to create this as well, so you can take her preferences into account. Some will want and even look forward to monthly check-ins with the team or their manager while on maternity leave. Others will prefer time to themselves to recuperate and spend time adjusting to motherhood. Use this timeline to explain expectations for the returning mother as well. This transparency will be helpful for them as they plan their return.
Do you remember how it felt to be a new employee at your company? A returning mom can tend to feel the same way, so re-boarding them is an important step. Whether your teammate was gone for 6 weeks or 6 months, remember that they aren’t up to date on everything that happened during their absence. Take the extra time to stop and explain what they missed. “Yes, they will quickly get up to speed,” confirmed Whitney. “But allotting time to help them do so will make the transition smoother on both ends.”
3. Offer Flexibility
Many new moms find it extremely difficult to jump right back into their old work routines, and it’s important for HR to acknowledge that difficulty. Offer the chance to design a schedule different from the one they used to have. “I’ve recently begun working from home one day a week,” said Whitney, “and I really like the flexibility that creates for me. Not only do I get more time with my baby by getting rid of my commute, but I actually find that it tends to be my most productive day of the week!”
4. Ask Questions
It’s not easy for a new mom to return to work, especially in the beginning, and it’s even more difficult when they feel like they can’t share their exciting developments! Whitney said, “When I returned to PerkSpot, I was so happy to be greeted with hugs and questions all about the newest addition to our family.” By encouraging your coworker to share stories and fun pictures, they feel more comfortable about stepping back into their role as an employee while still keeping their new role as a mother.
It’s important to take a hard look at the plans you have in place for each expecting employee. By developing a maternity leave program that creates a smooth transition back to work, you can retain your new mom’s talents while still making her feel comfortable and welcomed.