Returning to work after having a baby is no easy thing. There’s so much to juggle and if you aren’t able to make adjustments, then the task becomes a whole lot trickier.
As a mum of two myself, I understand the challenges that mums face when it comes juggling a work and home life. And as director and co-founder of digital marketing agency, The Audit Lab, and employer of parents, I’m in a position where I can make a difference and make returning to the working world much easier. Here’s how I do it.
The ability to work on their own terms
The era of the 9-to-5 is on its way out, thankfully. With more people demanding and more companies offering flexible working, it’s becoming easier for working mums to make their way back into work. The commitments don’t end when maternity leave is up, mums still need and appreciate the ability to balance their work and home commitments more equally.
Flexible working can take many forms. It could be being able to work from home at short notice (like the morning of) when a sickness bug strikes in the night, remote working in a different location like a coffee shop or co-working space, or different start and finish times to suit school runs and nursery pickups.
Kids don’t work to a schedule. Of course, they don’t know anything about schedules so who can blame them? Allowing for mums to adapt to their children’s schedule is one of the biggest helping hands you can give to working mums and dads.
Take unlimited time off
Taking inspiration from Netflix, LinkedIn and Dropbox, slowly but surely more British companies are starting to offer their employees an unlimited amount of holidays. Those that have done so report people actually taking fewer holidays than they would usually be allocated, as there’s no pressure to take them at the end of the year or risk losing out.
This approach allows working mums and dads to be off with their children if they are sick or to make parents evening or attending plays and performances. They are allowed to be with their families in the important moments, without missing out on a day’s pay. It’s a perfect way to help manage that work-life balance.
Return to work slowly
It’s hard to leave your baby. Ask any working mum out there. Ask any mum out there who has ever nipped to the shops alone or to have her nails done. And it barely gets any easier the more you do it. So asking your employed mums to return five days a week after nine months to a year is borderline cruel.
Offer before they even ask to make them feel valued. Offer a two or three day return to work, gradually increasing to four days and then full-time when, and only when, they feel ready to take that step. If they ever do. If they don’t, make sure the option of part-time work is available.
Make your workplace mum-friendly
Although it is a legal requirement, many companies still don’t provide a safe and private place for women to pump and express breastmilk. With breastfeeding back on the rise, there is becoming an even greater need for private areas. Breastfeeding can be difficult enough but it should be an employer’s responsibility to help make continuing feeding as easy as possible when they make the return to work.
This means providing a safe, secure and lockable room – no big windows – where mums can pump or breastfeed in peace. And no, it should not be a toilet cubicle. A private fridge designated for breastmilk only will also be greatly appreciated.
Focus on careers
Becoming a mum doesn’t put a halt on ambition. If anything it’ll fan the flames as mums want to prove themselves to their bosses and colleagues, and nurture any side of them that isn’t “someone’s mum”. Make sure that you allow their career progression to pick up where it left off and give them all the tools and assistance they need to get their career where they want it to be. Whether it’s new equipment, books or training seminars, give them the help they want.
About the author
Claire Crompton is the Co Founder and Director of digital marketing agency, The Audit Lab. Claire has a passion for communication, a strong commercial focus and appetite to deliver consistent results for all clients.