Ensure your maternity leave policy is clearly implemented in the company handbook and that all team members are aware of it. The policy should include how much notice to give before the leave, the amount of time allowed and what to do when returning to work.
Before the employee goes on leave, make it clear that you plan to keep in contact throughout their time off. Arrange days to catch-up either face-to-face or via phone/email. This will help the employee remain connected with the company and saves you the time on filling them in on their return.
Set up a review programme focused on their return to work. They should already be up to speed with what’s been happening from the catch-up meetings. The review programme will allow you to check how they are adapting and ensure they understand any changes that have been made. It also gives them the opportunity to request support or ask any questions.
As well as a review, show them they are cared for by organising a ‘welcome back’ lunch or dinner to help with make their return a smooth process. It gives the chance to meet any new employees and get reacquainted with others. This is important as one of the biggest causes of concern for returning to work mothers is seeing the rest of the team members, especially if they have lost contact while on leave. The day before the employee starts, hold a meeting to make your team aware of their return. Suggest some employees taking their team member out for an informal lunch or a quick coffee for a quick catch-up. The faster your employee settles back in, the faster their productivity will increase.
Ensure that all employees are being welcoming towards their returning colleague, some workers may see them as competition or enjoyed having authority over work that will be given back to the returning employee. Keep an eye on this by asking managers how the team are working together or taking the employee to one side and asking how they are settling back in.
It is important to be understanding of your employee’s home life. Ask how they are finding life with their new arrival and offer flexitime if it’s not already available. Be lenient with offering work from home opportunities, as your employee will appreciate your consideration of their home situation, which, in turn will increase their loyalty to your company. Some companies offer organisational and motivational coaching for new parents, helping them handle their new lifestyle, and so consider putting this in place to ensure your employees hit the ground running on their return.
All employers experience a worker taking maternity leave at some point in their career and so it is important to follow these tips to ensure the process goes smoothly before, during and after the maternity leave, affecting your company as little as possible.
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