Beyond Maternity: Empowering Parents in the Workplace

Beyond Maternity: Empowering Parents in the Workplace

The journey to parenthood is a remarkable chapter in an individual’s life, filled with anticipation, joy, and a whirlwind of emotions. For both employees and their leaders, this journey is not just a personal milestone but also a transformative experience that can have a profound impact on the workplace. We spoke to some people leaders in our network and reflected on how to best discuss, plan for and celebrate parenthood at work, not as a mere policy-driven obligation, but as a genuine and empathetic connection between leaders and their team members.

 

Celebrate and be in the moment

When an employee shares the news of impending parenthood, it’s an opportunity to genuinely celebrate this significant milestone in their life and to create a safe and supportive space for them. In these conversations, managerial hats are temporarily set aside, and the focus is on truly engaging with the individual. This genuine presence during such moments can leave a lasting positive impact.

 

Empower Beyond Policies

As a People Leader, your influence extends far beyond maintaining policy. The way you communicate, your tone, and your understanding hold more weight than any document. Prioritising empathetic communication and training for managers in this essential skill is vital. It’s about creating an environment where individual needs shape outcomes, understanding that policies provide frameworks, but emotional intelligence and compassion shapes their impact.

 

Respect boundaries

Respecting boundaries is key, as individuals on parental leave have varying preferences regarding communication. Some may desire frequent contact, while others may prefer minimal or no contact at all. Honouring these personal choices is essential, as it’s their parental leave, and they have the right to spend it as they wish.

 

Be adaptable

Parenthood is a journey that requires adaptability from both leaders and employees. What one envisions before becoming a parent can undergo substantial transformation once immersed in it. Flexibility becomes a crucial asset in navigating this transition seamlessly.

 

Foster a culture centred around trust

Trust is the cornerstone of a supportive workplace culture during parenthood. Recognising the significance of attending appointments in the journey to parenthood is a must, and leaders should have confidence in their team’s ability to fulfil responsibilities while allowing them space for essential appointments. This trust should permeate throughout the team, with leaders setting the precedent by demonstrating this behaviour.

 

Embrace new skill sets

Parents bring a unique skill set to the workplace, including precision and prioritisation honed through juggling responsibilities. Leaders should harness these skills and empower team members to use them effectively.

 

Out of sight, does not mean out of mind

Even when individuals are on parental leave, they should not be forgotten when it comes to career opportunities. Keeping them in the people development plan and having open conversations about their aspirations are crucial steps in this regard. If they are open to staying in touch, don’t be afraid to check in on how they feel about their future career if appropriate.

 

Flexibility takes on various forms

Returning to work after parental leave may be laden with emotions, and a well-thought-out plan can help ease this transition. Exploring strategies such as a gradual increase in workdays or the option for reduced hours can facilitate a gradual return to the established work schedule. Naturally, their foremost concern will now be the well-being of their child and it is important to acknowledge that this phase will require a readjustment back into the workforce.

Ultimately, every person’s journey into parenthood is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Leaders should recognise the significance of this journey and be open to communication, while employees should feel empowered to express their needs and desires. Parenthood teaches new skills in patience,  time-management and prioritisation. It’s a shared experience that can strengthen workplace bonds when approached with clear communication, empathy, understanding, and collaboration.

If you’re interested in continuing this conversation or learning more about empowering your employees throughout this journey, our Commercial Director, Jade Falzon (who is pregnant herself!), is always open to sharing further insights and advice. 

If you have someone in your team going on parental or maternity leave, we can help you to cover this period with a contractor on demand. To discuss this avenue further, feel free to reach out here.

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