A life event as ground-shaking as having a child means returning to normal life can pose a struggle, for a variety of reasons. Going back to work can be daunting after that much time off, especially when being a mother is a full-time job itself. Postpartum depression and lack of sleep are both common and are mental health barriers preventing a smooth return to the job. Around 40% of employers in the U.S. now offer paid parental leave, which is a great step. When an employee comes back after those 12 or more weeks, here are ways an employer can support your new moms coming back to work after a baby.
Help them feel connected while they’re gone and when they return.
Employees on maternity will likely want to stay in the communication loop, so don’t cut off contact. Before they go on leave, touch base on how often they’d prefer communication. Maybe she’ll want to take all the time to herself, or maybe she’ll want to stop in once a week to show off her baby. Either way, set an actionable amount of time communication will happen. These needs are so personal, that checking in beforehand can avoid confusion. Also, be sure to continue inviting her to work events. Preventing feelings of isolation during her time off will make the transition back to work less overwhelming. When they return to work, prioritize communication about how things are going. They’ll likely feel more comfortable expressing their needs when you approach the conversation first.
Make use of Keep In Touch (KIT) days when transitioning back to work after a baby.
An employee can work up to 10 KIT days throughout their maternity leave. These days involve reasonable contact regarding training courses, upcoming events, developments with the company, etc. These days start to bridge the gap between working and not working, making the transition easier. Diving headfirst back into work can cause stress which is preventable through this tip. Employers can plan to use KIT days as part of a ramp-up strategy to slowly return to work.
Examine relevant health care policies.
Make sure employees are getting the services they need for physical and mental health. As far as mental health, communicate your EAP programs well if your company offers them. These can be a valuable resource for new moms who are struggling mentally and emotionally. There are counselors and therapists who specialize in struggles new moms face, like postpartum depression. This condition affects 1 in 7 women. Relevant policies might also include benefits like on-site childcare or childcare discounts. Whatever your company offers, look it over to ensure new moms are supported and clearly communicate it.
A dramatic life change can make it hard to come back to work. Parenting a baby increases stress levels at home, so preventing stress involving returning to work is a helpful step in caring for your employees. With these tips, they can quickly reach their previous level of success and thrive in their role without a rocky transition back to work after a baby.