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Why is the return to work experience so important for working mums?

Updated: Feb 1, 2021

A couple of weeks ago, the wrkflow team sat down with Laura Cole, Head of Digital HR Service and Employee Experience @ Standard Chartered and Tash Cullen, Founder @ Beloved Bumps for a quick chat.


We spoke about all things RTW experience design, returning challenges and WHY this process is just so important for mothers returning to work.


So, we thought we'd write up some of the highlights for you to digest in less than 3 minutes. (Maybe even less if you're a speed reader..)





First of all, why does it matter? Put simply, there are still too many organisations getting this wrong. We walked through the research that points to why organisations need to take this process seriously. Employees who are supported throughout the returning process are more engaged, more productive, less likely to leave, more likely to put in the work, and are less likely to talk negatively about their employer.





So, what challenges are we seeing for working mums within this process and how do we tackle them?


Challenges


Workplace Design: where do women go to manage things like pumping? Does your organisation have an appropriate and dignified space?


Manager Influence: what role does that manager play and how do their opinions and attitudes influence women’s integration back into the workforce?


Process Design: what's the transition back to work like and what processes and programmes are in place to support this?


We shared some insights based on our own personal experiences and then jumped into how we might solve some of these challenges.


Here are a few highlights:


Office Layout: re-designing office layouts to facilitate appropriate rooms for breastfeeding mothers to pump. If working remotely, try and avoid making a big deal out of going off-camera.





Manager Training: one of the critical adjustments to make is offering training to managers on how to support working mums coming back to work. This would help people leaders understand the emotional and physical changes a new mother is going through and will equip them with the knowledge to provide a positive re-integration


Communication: it's important that a new mother's transition back into the workplace is a positive one, even before the first day back. Managers should maintain communication throughout the maternity leave period within the parameters set by the employee before leaving. Managers could consider inviting them to join major team meetings, arrange semi-regular catch-ups or discuss what the first week back might look like in advance.


Support Groups: establishing a network of mums within the organisation is a simple but highly effective way of creating a support network. Like-minded people that working mothers can lean on and go to if they have any questions or challenges.





Technology: How can tech be leveraged to ensure a consistent approach across the workforce? This one is worthy of a separate discussion but is critical to ensuring your business (particularly if it's large) can apply some kind of quality control measure. Prompting your leaders to reach out during the maternity leave period is a simple but effective solution


Last but not least.. what can we take away from this?


Organisations need to move beyond the "it's not a high volume experience" debate. The impact of getting this wrong is significant. We need to encourage organisations to invest in the right training and implement policies and practices that make the returning to work journey for women an engaging one. Understanding the current employee experience within your organisation is the first step.


Fancy hearing more?


Go ahead and check out our live discussion over on YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-_ql3T3-E0&feature=youtu.be


Alternatively, contact us to learn more about our 4-week RTW redesign process.

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