Organisations are increasingly recognising that paid parental leave alone isn’t enough to make returning parents feel supported and equipped to return to work – yet turnover of Mothers returning to work remains high.
For Emma Walsh, a background in HR and her own experiences of re-entering the workforce after becoming a mother provided unique insight into the equation of Mums returning to work. Walsh consulted her friends and colleagues about the challenges they had experienced when returning to work, and what help and support they had received. “Overwhelmingly, the answer was none,” Walsh said.
Her experiences led her to found Mums@Work,a provider of return to work guidance. The organisation is now a leader in facilitating return-to-work programs, and designs in-house programs about how to facilitate parents returning to work. At KPMG, Walsh said the proper conversations were simply not taking place. However, after increasing diversity training and providing more specialist support to returning parents, the organisation has experienced a more successful re-integration process.
According to Walsh, the way organisations tackle the return to work transition has improved. “I think there’s been a significant shift in the last six years, and we’ve seen much more willingness to acknowledge a need for flexibility for people with families, from a time when a lot of parents almost had to pretend they didn’t have kids, and just get on with it.”
Lucille Rogers, a mother of three and a former HR director with more than 15 years in the business, found that despite dropping to three days a week, the “hour’s equation” still didn’t add up. Rogers fully expected to completely transition back into her role, but didn’t account for a new variable: the emotional side of returning to work. Rogers was in the unique duel position of understanding the business requirements from a HR perspective and also as a new Mum returning to work. For Rogers, who is now a USANA Health Sciences associate, the biggest pitfall was estimating what would be achievable before taking leave. “At the end of the day, a workplace is a workplace and a business needs as many hours as they can get. But for Mum’s, they need flexibility, and of course it becomes emotional.”
Walsh said successful re-integration is achievable, and time and time again one of the main pitfalls employers make is not sitting down with the employee after they return and doing a ‘job redesign’. “So often Mums go in with unrealistic expectations about what can actually do. The focus needs to shift from what they can’t do, to what they can do.”
Resources sector a salary yardstick
From amateur to professional: Coaching comes of age
HR critical to disaster management strategies
Greens introduce bill to enforce flexible work conditions
Sign a 'consensual relationship agreement'
Please, don't take a seat