Why women are often fearful of Maternity leave
Without the proper support, women can often be fearful of their approaching maternity leave, and what it will mean for their career.
Oftentimes these women will have fought hard for their role, their team, their place in the business, often to worry that their pregnancy and ensuing maternity leave, will be seen as a sign of weakness, and of them not actually being really that career focused….
In my Maternity Coaching work, I am already working with the “converted”, the businesses that understand the value they have in their female employees. They want to work with them to smooth the transition into their maternity leave, and to support them as they return back to the workplace post leave.
So what is a good way to handle this transition?
Firstly, talk to ALL your female Staff. Those that are pregnant now, and that may be in the future. Reassure them that you will not see their pregnancy as a weakness and that you will support them should this be in their plans. Let this be a regular and consistent theme in the business, and take active steps to ensure that all Managers reinforce this message.
As the leave approaches talk openly with your Employee about what she may be thinking/worrying about. How long will she take? Is flexi-time post baby an option? What will likely be changed in the business when the time is up? Legally, women are entitled to return to their job or to a job as near as is feasible to provide, post leave. Map out the options here and agree to keep in touch over the leave, if she would like.
Post-leave, and before she is back, get in touch. Maybe an informal coffee meeting or similar. Make sure she is up to date with any changes in the business and provide an open conversation where she can float any questions or concerns she has.
When she is back to work, keep this line of communication open. Maybe she will return on a phased basis while baby is settling into their new routine? What will happen if/when baby gets sick? How does she feel about the workload? Any changes to her role?
The range of possible concerns is endless, but keeping a supportive and open dialogue is critical here. Maternity coaching is such a great way to provide this support to your female employees, and increasingly we are seeing businesses avail of this service.
But remember. Biology dictates that women carry the babies, but they do not get pregnant on their own! Consider your attitude to the Fathers in the business too. Can they leave early to collect a sick baby from creche? How are your flexi working arrangements stacking up?
Life and the way we live it is so intensely individual, we can’t expect to accurately predict every eventuality. But actively valuing your female staff and supporting and communicating openly with them goes a long way to keeping a signifant portion of your Talent pool happy and engaged!