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The U.S. Census Bureau found that only 50% of women ages 16 to 50 who birthed a child within the last 12 months are employed, and of those 63.2% are working part time. Organizations need as many qualified workers in play as they can get, so as business leaders and HR professionals, we need to do what we can to ensure mothers return to work after baby and thrive as working parents.
Lori Mihalich-Levin created Mindful Return to provide the resources she was looking for when she made the transition to working parenthood. Returning to work after parental leave can come with a lot of challenges, like disrupted sleep, guilt, shaken confidence, and maternal biases. Employers can support returning employees by recognizing the skills they gain through parenthood, believing in them as leaders, and providing them with supports like parental leave and coaching. Mentoring programs and new parent ERGs can be helpful, too.
It’s important for not just moms, but dads to take parental leave. The more we encourage fathers to take their full parental leave, the more active they are in the early days of the child’s life, and the more success a woman tends to have in her career. And when one father on a team, especially someone who has a leadership position, takes his full leave, other dads feel empowered to take theirs, too.
JoDee’s daughter Keeli and her husband Magnus, who are expecting their first child, joined the show to discuss the impressive support new parents are offered where they live in Sweden. The government mandates a large amount of time off, so that’s not a stressor for them, but they still have worries like commute time, being able to focus while working from home, and for Keeli, not taking too long to get back to her PhD program so she can finish it and increase her income.
Keeli and Magnus suggest that organizations help their staff by having a good protocol and open discussion about how far in advance to inform your employer of your pregnancy, when your maternity leave will start, etc. – especially for first-time parents. Offering flexibility with the timing of the new parent’s return as far as possible would be helpful, too. Have empathy for your employees, and consider offering deals or references for local daycares.
In this episode’s listener mail, we’re asked how to approach a manager who’s very resistant to virtual learning. In the news, we discuss a survey finding that 50% of workers experience the “Sunday Scaries” before returning to work. That’s just one of the mental health concerns HR professionals and business leaders should be aware of and plan to address.
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