Maree Morgan-Monk is the Head of People and Culture at Peoplecare and has worked with 28 Mum’s over the last four years to facilitate their successful return to work. She was also awarded Australian HR Manager of the Year at the 2013 Australian HR Awards.
She has condensed years of knowledge and experience into five top tips to help Mum’s in navigating their return to work after maternity leave.
1. Plan ahead...like really ahead
It is good to talk to your employer prior to commencing your maternity leave about what your return to work intentions might be. That way all parties can plan ahead. We all know that all plans are subject to change, however the extra time will give you the opportunity to talk to your family about child care options and it will give your employer the opportunity to consider ways to accommodate your needs as well as the business needs.
2. Keep in contact
Keeping in contact with your employer whilst on maternity leave is really beneficial as it maintains open lines of communication. Pop in for a quick visit from time to time. Send in an email (with updated baby pics of course) and let your employer know how you are coping. It’s OK to admit that things are tough (if they are) as this will give your employer an idea on how you are coping and what support you have. For me, being a mother of three boys (twins included) I totally can empathise.
Employers should also make an effort to keep in touch with their maternity leavers. Keeping them in the loop with what’s been happening with an email or text here and there, as well as giving them opportunities to attend training days, social events and staff information sessions is often very appreciated by employees. Just make sure you give them as much notice as possible.
3. Think about a Plan B
We all know how difficult arranging child care can be. Even if you’ve been sourcing childcare since the day you’ve found out you were pregnant – getting a spot or having another family member being available when you want may not be guaranteed. Having a backup plan is super important. Sometimes when you return to work, carers get sick, grandparents plan overseas holidays and child care arrangements may not suit your baby, planning for the unplanned goes a long way in reducing the stress of returning to work.
4. Have a few practice runs before your start date
Establishing a new routine can be challenging. Try not to do it all at once. Have a few practice runs before returning to work particularly if this involves changes to feeding routines, care arrangements, travel time and separation from mum.
Employers also need to be mindful that the employee is trying to establish a new routine so being able to provide some flexibility within the first month of returning to work goes a long way in ensuring that they are retained, productive and engaged. Starting a little later, extra breaks for expressing and showing concern and understanding about separating from baby demonstrates that you are an employer that truly personally cares about your people.
5. Have a structured return to work induction
Don’t think that when you return to work you will pick up exactly where you left off. Be realistic about what information you have retained and understand that most organisation go through many changes. Be prepared to be re-trained, ask loads of questions if you are unsure and set yourself a clear plan of what tasks you need a refresher on.
Employers should induct a returning maternity leaver just like they do any new employer. The induction would involve introducing them to new people, WH&S and compliance training, revisiting familiar tasks and updating them on any new processes and productions. An Induction checklist outlining how their return to work program will work sets very clear expectations for their first month and can ensure that the employee is not too overwhelmed.
To get in touch with Peoplecare visit www.peoplecare.com.au or phone (02) 4224 4333.
Peoplecare is a national, not for profit health fund which has been caring for its members since 1953. Growing for more than 60 years, Peoplecare now covers more than 76,000 people on more than 33,000 memberships.
A high performing, multi-award winning company with a range of health covers that have been independently rated amongst the best value in Australia, Peoplecare has also developed a reputation for the highest levels of customer satisfaction.
The not-for-profit health insurer has consistently ensured it is an ethical corporate citizen that makes a significant contribution to the community. The health fund holds a strong relationship and interaction with many local communities, sporting and charitable organisations in the Illawarra region.