In an ideal world, all expectant parents would be offered coaching and holistic supports to help them to successfully navigate the massive professional and personal transition of becoming a parent and taking a break from their career; and with their line managers fully equipped to support them through this transition. This is not always possible, particularly for small and start-up organisations, and so here are my top tips for supporting your employees on a minimal budget:

  1. Approach them with curiosity; ask questions about what support they need and when, and don’t be afraid to ask how they are. With their perspective on-board, try putting yourself in their shoes to help build understanding.
  2. If you don’t already, get yourself a maternity, paternity and parental leave policy and remove some of the uncertainty and potential bias in decision-making.
  3. If you are worried about saying the wrong thing – read the legislation and then rest assured that if you treat all your employees equally you have nothing to worry about!
  4. Build flexible ways of working into your company structure and manpower plans. Think of how roles can be shaped and re-shaped during resource gaps to make best use of interns, work experience, talent pipelines etc.
  5.  Agree a communications plan between you for before, during and after leave; and stick to it.
  6. Encourage them to complete a performance/project summary before they leave as this can be a great help in refreshing memory and confidence building when returning.
  7. Book a slot on a return-to-work workshop to help them to plan their return to work.
  8. Facilitate network building with other parents in same company, or industry if your company is too small.
  9. Do what you can to facilitate a phased return to work even if that means returning a little earlier than planned.
  10. Facilitate them to take the lead on workload on their return, and build in checkpoints to see what further support might be needed.

How many of these are you currently doing? Any other initiatives you’d like to share? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

With some forethought and planning, managing expectant/new parents and maternity and paternity leave can be simply part of your resource planning and employee engagement & well-being initiatives. 

Planning your return to work following maternity leave? See here for tips…

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