Women are the biggest untapped reservoir of talent in the world and the loss of such talent is a big blow to the employer. In particular, a lack of support after maternity leave can result in large losses for a company.
Replacing Talent Is Hard!
According to a book named Lean in: Women, Work and Will to Lead, 43% of highly qualified women with children are leaving their careers or taking a break for a period of time.
You just can’t afford to lose this amount of talent. These women are under the impression that their workplace doesn’t support their return and get demotivated.
Companies have to show that they care and design an environment to nurture their needs and in turn encourage success. As the working mother is constantly straddling and balancing two different lateral worlds, it is important to woo them back.
Companies that fail to recognize the value of supporting and retaining their female workforce will not be sustainable in the long-term.
Additionally, if you are unable to retain the workforce, you have to pay out a hefty price of recruiting and training new talent to make up for it.
According to a study from KPMG, global companies spend up to $47 billion in recruiting and training new teams to replace women who leave after having a baby.
Replacing people is expensive, especially if in a specialized or skilled category of work. Rather than inviting the trouble of hiring and training someone new, it is best to avoid voluntary turnover in the first place.
However, for new mothers returning to the workplace, staying put often becomes difficult! And this, despite being able and willing to handle responsibilities.
Women Returning From Maternity Leave Are Not Always Welcomed With Open Arms…
As much as our workplaces and policies have evolved, this is still a bitter reality. Here are some of the challenges women face after they re-enter from their maternity hiatus!
- Not receiving attention to requests for flexible working hours
- Being singled out for redundancy
- Lack of communication on what is expected of them
- Mishandled pay during maternity leave
- Basing recruitment decisions based on the employee’s family situation
- Lack of connection with the employer during the leave
- Improper assignment of roles or projects
- Derailment in career growth and promotions
- Insufficient childcare options
- Their personal lack of motivation to return back owing to the existing workplace culture
- In some cases a direct or a cloaked denial to allow returning back to work
And, that is why it’s important to enforce a “Mommy Track” for returning women after their maternity leave.
‘The Mommy Track’ is an essential retention solution that offers workplace flexibility and companies are now figuring out how to do it really well.
The concept of Mommy Track is about creating a low impact, flexible work schedule with a fair treatment policy for returning women.
Let’s look at some other ways to ensure that women feel confident to reclaim their careers post maternity leave!
7 Ways to Create the Right Path for Returning Women Employees
If you want to retain the female talent after maternity leave, here are the top areas to focus on:
1. Have A ‘Sufficient’ Maternity Leave Policy
First and foremost, you need to have a lucrative policy in place with a minimum of 10 weeks to 16 weeks of maternity leave.
If the employee thinks that they need more off time to focus on their newborns, the company should consider and re-align the schedule.
2. Offer Flexible Work Schedules
By and large, apart from a generous maternity leave policy and higher pay, flexible work arrangement is the most important factor that women consider in their return to work.
Every pregnancy is different and that is why some women may be able to jump back to work instantly and some may be terrified to leave their baby.
Discuss with your employee and work out the best work arrangement schedule. If employers are not flexible, some women turn to their own creative resources to freelance or start their own business that fits their lifestyle.
3. Help With Childcare
Childcare costs are at an all-time high, and some women feel the pressure to leave their job when the costs outweigh the benefits of working.
It would be great if employers can make it more comfortable for the new parents by providing onsite childcare facilities, subsidized rates or backup care.
4. Ease The Transition
Some top companies have efficient return to work programs that aim to ease the transition.
For instance, you can facilitate a phased return to work involving shorter days initially, rather than an immediate return to full-time hours.
5. Don’t Hinder Career Growth
No career-driven woman wants to be subject to demotivation or additional responsibilities being withheld because of her new status.
New moms still want the option to work harder and climb up the ladder. So, it is essential to recognize this and avoid all the biases.
6. Stay Connected During Maternity
Women in their maternity leave tend to get broken off with the company for a long gap and feel it hard to catch up later. What are you doing to get back the wandering mothers without making them feel like an alien in the crowd?
You can launch specialized apps for returning mothers to find their mojo back at their workplace and stay in touch with the company for a smooth transition back to work.
For example, Infosys has an app named Sapphire to keep their employees who go on a long leave updated on any organization developments and also on available projects that they can join upon return.
7. Make Them Love Their Job
Women who are engaged and satisfied with their job are more likely to join back after their maternity leave. A positive work culture with a supportive environment will give the women the confidence to return back to work.
From performance management tools to open discussions, have conversations with them about their preferences to gauge their job satisfaction. Make it worthwhile for women to return back to their job they love.
Life is all about getting through rough phases. Going back to work after maternity leave can indeed be rough for the woman as well as the employer who needs to accommodate them. However, a smooth sailing is definitely possible for both when right measures are adopted.
Even though choosing a career path is a personal decision for each mother, it is in the employer’s hands to increase the chances of retaining female talent in the workplace!