Concern about saying the ‘wrong’ thing causes both parties to avoid an open and frank conversation about managing maternity leave and parental responsibilities, which in turn makes it impossible to develop a framework that works going forward.
As we discussed in our previous blog post, attracting, developing and retaining talent is a critical success factor for businesses. Successful managers will balance family responsibilities with work responsibilities allowing others to be effective both at work and at home.
Here are 10 tips for Business Leaders Tackling the Baby Issue:
1. Have the ‘Chat’ - Not having a conversation about the impact maternity leave will have to the company will lead to incorrect assumptions and potentially misguided decisions.
2. Risk Being Frank – Discuss issues of concern openly and honestly so both employer and employee can come to an agreed plan going forward. Tough topics regarding how clients will be managed during the employee’s absence and upon their return need to be discussed to define expectations and build confidence in the professional relationship.
3. One Size Doesn’t Fit All – Every employee’s situation is unique and staff members often need different types of support or flexibility at different stages of their career. It is important to create an environment in which employees feel they can ask for certain measures to be put in place, that allow them to do their job successfully whilst managing family obligations.
4. Think Long Term – Careers may be long but the most difficult period of balancing a young family and work is relatively short-term. Consider the long term benefits to making an investment in your employees by supporting them through that tough stage, and in return, you are likely to develop a very valuable and loyal employee.
5. Family Does Not Diminish Career Prospects – Strongly communicate that employees with families will not reduce career goals by having females with families on your senior management team. This is crucial in creating employee confidence that there are still opportunities for advancement.
6. Walk the Talk – Ensure that everyone on your management team believes in the corporate culture you have created and that they understand the importance of having both males and females on the team at various senior levels in the company.
7. Incorporate Females into Company Networks – All too often, the high demands of career and family cause women to take a backseat in networking. It is important to ensure that your company looks at various ways to integrate female employees back into networking on informal and formal levels. Establishing an interest in your organisation entails being connected to the team and its success whilst also receiving acknowledgement that your input is valued.
8. Mentors are Critical to Careers – Develop mentoring and sponsorship programmes to provide career support and connect women with leadership networks. Sponsorship from senior management is an important element in everyone’s career, so encourage your leadership team to mentor both males and females in your company.
9. Support Paternity Obligations – It’s vital that your company supports men’s parental obligations too. More often than not, there are two working parents in a relationship, and so men also need to have the support to care for their children in the same way women do. Having a paternal policy in place sends a far more powerful message than a female only policy.
10. We CAN have it All – The term ‘you can’t have it all’ is thrown around quite a bit, but we should come to believe that having it all should be the norm, and not the exception. Supporting your employees will ensure that they believe they have the ability to pursue a successful career with your company whilst also raising happy and healthy families.
The contents of this article are necessarily expressed in broad terms and limited to general information rather than detailed analyses or legal advice. Specialist professional advice should always be obtained to address legal and other issues arising in specific contexts.