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Communication disconnect: Employers and Mums returning to work

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HC Online | 21 Feb 2012, 12:00 AM Agree 0
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.
  • Tammy Tansley | 21 Feb 2012, 02:46 PM Agree 0
    It can come as somewhat of a shock that the old ways of working pre children just don't work anymore. Ie - pre children, you could just stay as late as needed to get the work done, you could go out for those impromptu drinks with the team etc. Post babies, there are childcare arrangements, pick up times to honour etc. Not to mention the struggle of intellectual (value of career to self etc) vs emotional (guilt of leaving said children). Add to that an impatience from organisations, and the need to 'get it done' and it's no wonder it all just gets too hard. The RTW programmes are a great idea - but there needs to be work pre leave as well, so that new parents have some idea of what is coming..
  • ROHAN SQUIRCHUK | 21 Feb 2012, 05:23 PM Agree 0
    Tammy I agree - the work of Alison Hill from Pragmatic Thinking on 'Maternity Matters' is great in this area. I also think that 'we' all need to work on 'Equal Parenting' - remembering that both Dad and Mum [or whatever combination] are responsible for 'care' and one personally [generally Mum] is not there 24/7 on call with a 'helper' but that both parents are really important. I love your comment 'some idea of what is coming' - I agree and I also know, there's a level of who would go there if they really knew?
  • Alison Hill | 21 Feb 2012, 10:11 PM Agree 0
    I agree with you Tammy that the conversations about expectations and 'what if's' need to start to occur well before maternity leave. There is a great window of opportunity for organisations to collaborate with women prior to leave to look at job design as well as start to prepare for the emotional element of being a Mum, as well as what that looks like in a return to work capacity. The reality is that disruption is the birthplace of innovation, and forward-thinking workplaces who embrace this will reap the reward that maternity leave can both support families AND actually improve business. This is not an either/or situation.
  • Alison Hill | 22 Feb 2012, 07:08 AM Agree 0
    Having a baby is a major life event, whereas in the workplace it is sometime seen more as a 'phase'. I agree with you Tammy that more work and conversations need to occur before going on maternity leave, in fact I think there is a window of opportunity to look job redesign and workflow processes in this period. Disruption is the birthplace of innovation, and the opportunity to stop and look at how we're doing business is one that most organisations ignore. There is also a lot more that can be done to prepare women and families for the emotional element of having a baby, the change in identity, the battle against expectations, and dealing with vulnerability. Workplaces need to educate Managers to engage in conversations earlier and build relationships with women so that they both support women AND improve business in the process.
  • Tammy Tansley | 28 Feb 2012, 02:51 PM Agree 0
    Ha! Yes, Rohan, too true, would you do it if you knew what was coming? Having said all that, the points that Alison makes are very valid and there is much more that can/should be done (for both parents). There are too many examples of great employees being lost because organisations just couldn't get their heads around what to do, and when to do it. I had a bit of a rant about this a few months ago :
  • Adrienne McNamara | 29 Feb 2012, 12:15 AM Agree 0
    When I returned to work full time, after consulting and working part time, whilst having children, I expected that everything, well planned as it were would fall into place. Despite nannies, grandparents etc, nothing can prepare a Senior Executive female, especially in a male dominated industry , for what would befall her...questions as to why she is in 5 minutes late, even though she is the last to leave in the evening....working 7 days a week, all hours....women are different, bring different skills to the workplace, and, being mothers need different and more flexible work patterns to contribute long term.....I constantly struggle with the inherent inbuilt need to explain WHY I am working different to my male peers: I remind them...when our meetings are at 6am, or 8pm... they have wives..I AM THE WIFE...and THE MOTHER....if industry wants intelligent women...they need to accommodate the wives, mothers...
  • Jo Compson | 05 Mar 2012, 12:58 PM Agree 0
    This is a broader social issue, and should not be confined to the workplace. There is still the expectation that it is the mother who will pick up all the childcare needs, and the mother who has all the clashes with work and child-rearing. Where there are 2 parents available, it needs to beocome more acceptable throughout society - and therefore in the workplace - that the male parent has these responsibilities as well and must make the same work adjustments to allow for them.
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