Employee on Maternity Leave? Here’s How Employers Can Ensure They Smoothly Get Back to Work

Photo Credits - Nick Morrison via Unsplash

Returning to work after maternity leave is a significant milestone for employees, and employers can play a pivotal role in ensuring a smooth transition. The period after maternity leave can be a mix of excitement, anxiety, and the need for readjustment once they get back to work. 

To make this phase seamless for returning mothers, employers must adopt proactive measures and create a supportive environment when they get back to work.

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How to Smoothly Get Back to Work

Returning from maternity leave can be a vulnerable time for employees. A simple yet effective way for employers to support this transition is by acknowledging the return. Send out a return-to-work email, ensuring the team is aware of the employee’s return date. This small gesture can make the employee feel valued and welcomed.

Additionally, holding a ‘return to work’ meeting with the team can provide an opportunity for everyone to reconnect when they get back to work. It’s a chance to catch up on any changes within the organisation, ensuring the returning employee feels informed and integrated from day one.

Create a Welcoming Workspace

Consider the practicalities of the return after maternity leave. Having a workspace ready for the returning employee is crucial. A desk relocation for better access or to accommodate any changes in team structures can contribute significantly to a smooth return. 

Ensure that the employee has all the necessary materials and resources at their disposal. This not only saves time but also sends a message that the organisation is invested in their seamless return.

Implementing a phased return-to-work plan can further aid the reintegration process. This could involve adjusting working hours or allowing the employee to work from home initially. The goal is to ease them back into the routine, acknowledging the new responsibilities they might have on their plate.

Flexible Working Hours

Life with a newborn is unpredictable. Recognising this, employers can embrace flexibility in working hours when they get back to work. Allowing employees to adjust their schedules or offering remote work options demonstrates an understanding of the challenges of balancing work and childcare. 

The keyword here is flexibility – by accommodating the diverse needs of returning mothers, employers contribute to a positive work environment.

Supportive Culture

Building a people-first culture is fundamental. Open communication, active listening, and empathy are crucial components of a supportive work environment. Employers should encourage employees to share their thoughts and concerns without judgment. 

Regular check-ins, both formal and informal, can be instrumental in gauging how the employee is adjusting to the work routine when they get back to work.

Health and Well-being Focus

Returning mothers may experience anxiety and depression during this period of adjustment. Employers should prioritise the health and well-being of their employees by providing access to resources such as counselling services and wellness programmes. 

A supportive workplace actively promotes mental health, contributing to a more engaged and resilient workforce.

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Catch Up with Work and Set Objectives When They Get Back To Work

Helping employees catch up with work is an essential aspect of a smooth return once they get back to work. Arrange regular reviews with line managers to discuss what is working well and to address any challenges. 

These meetings provide a platform for the returning employee to voice concerns, ensuring that the employer is aware of any hurdles they may be facing, once they return.

Setting objectives is another vital step in the reintegration process. Approximately two months after the return, schedule an objectives-setting meeting. This is an opportunity to align short-term goals, discuss career plans, and demonstrate the employer’s commitment to the employee’s professional development.

Conclusion: Ensuring They Smoothly Get Back to Work

In conclusion, employers hold the key to a successful and smooth return to work after maternity leave. By acknowledging the return, creating a welcoming workspace, embracing flexibility, fostering a supportive culture, prioritising health and well-being, and facilitating catch-ups with work, employers can ensure that their employees smoothly return to work. 

The key thing to remember here is not just returning; it’s about ensuring a supportive and positive environment that empowers employees to seamlessly integrate once they get back to work.

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