Rachel Veal
Written by
Rachel Veal

Supporting Women Returners in the Workplace

Supporting employees is always a current topic, but who supports employees returning to work after maternity leave or a parental career break – Women Returners?

Not all organisations have a big shiny returnship programme with 6 months of training, mentoring and on-the-job learning, but everyone wants the returner to successfully transition back into the workplace.

Flexible working patterns are half the battle (the CIPD recently published a review of a German study which provides further evidence of the links between Flex and retention) but there is scope for more.[1] Here is a range of simple, no cost or low cost suggestions to support women returners. Some are applicable to larger organisations, but there is no reason why smaller organisations cannot take the ethos of the approach and tailor it to suit themselves.

  1. Be upfront about expectations and the employee’s rights to taking time off. A structured meeting can also be used as an opportunity to talk through suggestions for a back up plan for childcare.
  2. Give ongoing support. It’s easy to give a great welcome and then move on. Planned meetings with a manager or HR manager at one month, six months, nine months etc. can make a world of difference. Whether it is the line manager or HR manager depends on the organisation.
  3. Implement a mentor or buddy system with other returners, or a support group in a larger organisation.
  4. Involve a back-to-work coach. An external party can help the employee with practical problem-solving, and encourage goal-setting and personal career development. This can be remote, by video call, to keep costs down.
  5. Empower working parents. Capitalize on their fresh return and keen attitude. Ensure that flexible working does not impede their career development.
  6. Review your flexible arrangements. Is it working for the business? Is it working for the individual? How are the individual’s needs changing as their children grow up?
  7. Upskill managers to guide their teams through life and career transitions.
  8. Initiate a Parental Steering Group. Let parents help you to help them.
  9. Support those in senior roles through a Diversity Programme. A McKinsey study found that the key issues for such a programme to address were empathy and understanding from others, developing a range of leadership styles and work/life balance for all.[2]

A few carefully chosen return-to-work procedures can increase employee satisfaction and aid retention in any size organisation.

[1] ​The effects of flexible work practices on employee attitudes: evidence from a large-scale panel study in Germany. Claudia Kröll & Stephan Nüesch, The International Journal of Human Resource Management, Volume 30, 2019 – Issue 9, pp 1505-1525.

[2] McKinsey Quarterly, April 2014 ‘Why gender diversity at the top remains a challenge’

Introducing Coaching Partners – Rachel Veal and Rebecca Willding-Jones

Coaching Partners are HR and Careers professionals who work with women who have been out of the workplace for a while and want to get back to work or start a new professional venture.

With extended maternity leave, many women find themselves on a longer career break than envisaged. When they are ready to return to work, their career outlook may have shifted and their confidence can be affected. They still want a ‘proper’ career but one that flexes around their family commitments.

The Career Relaunch Programme delivers flexible coaching to mums through a programme of interactive webinar sessions.

We love the idea that women support women and so we incorporated a peer group coaching element. This improves confidence and provides a valuable networking opportunity.

For more details visit, please contact them on:

E: ​[email protected]
W: ​www.coachingpartners.co.uk
F: ​https://www.facebook.com/coachingpartnerscareerrelaunch