The challenges (and joys!) of being a working parent are a frequent hot topic in my office.
Myself and my colleagues always discuss the latest impromptu children’s sickness bug to throw our week off kilter, or the rush hour traffic that led our perfectly planned after-school club pick up to ruin.
So I was interested this week to read about a new pilot project headed up by Nicola Sturgeon and backed by the Scottish Government, which looks to help women re-enter the workplace after a career break. The focus is on helping women to update their skills and knowledge, encouraging employers to put the right processes and training in place and give women the confidence to return, succeed and develop.
From my own experience of coming back to work after maternity leave, and particularly in a day when technology in ever changing, it’s easy to feel as though you have been left behind and the task of catching up feels daunting.
Sturgeon’s candid solution to acknowledging and tackling this issue head on is refreshing. The value of having support from your employer to gain additional complex skills and become more knowledgeable and agile in your work is as valuable to a mum returning to work as it is an ambitious millennial working their way upwards.
But there is something else at play which can be make or break for a new parent returning to work, and that is having the ability to work flexibly; be it working from home one day a week or adjusting the hours of the working day.
I’ve twice returned to the workplace following maternity leave, and both times I was fortunate to have an understanding and supportive employer who made the transition not only easy, but also enjoyable.
However, it’s not just about offering support to mothers coming back from having children. Let’s face it, the kids aren’t going anywhere – they’re going to fall ill, there will be assemblies, parents’ evenings and a whole host of other things that we need to be around for. That’s why flexible working should be an ongoing thing, offered to both mothers and fathers.
At BrightHR, we have a culture of support and trust which allows me to work how and where I choose in order to be the most productive. And it’s something that’s made me feel healthier, happier and more efficient.
I’m not an exception to the rule. This means that I don’t feel uncomfortable coming into the office at 10am, or leaving at 4.30pm, because I’m not the only one doing it. It’s just part of life here at BrightHR – we’re not a 9-5 culture and so you don’t feel like the odd one out by not working to those hours.
Work-life balance. A phrase that’s used a lot, but it really comes into focus when you’ve got children that you need to get home for, and it definitely helps to negate any guilt I feel at leaving them to go to work.
Mutual respect between me and my employer. They trust me and allow me to work in a way that suits me, this means I always give 100% back! I really value being treated like an adult with the ability to manage my own time.
Parents returning to work don’t just return with sleepless nights and schools runs, they re-enter with rich experiences and a new take on life and work that everyone can benefit from, making a positive transition back into the workplace ever more crucial.
By Bianca Hartley, Head of Communications at BrightHR