7 Tips to Help your Employees Return to Work from Parental Leave

October 1, 2019

In Employee Engagement

Parents with baby coming back to work after parental leave

Returning to work after parental leave can be a difficult period of adaptation for new parents.

Regaining a routine after an extended time out of the office especially a long parental leave. Combined with managing new responsibilities at home, it’s not an easy task. However, as an employer, you can ensure a smooth transition by providing your employees with the support they need to blossom.

1) Prepare a surprise for their return

The new parents may be experiencing some stress at the idea of returning to work after being out of the office for a long period of time. Why not surprise them with balloons, a welcome back card, or a gift card on their desk? By showing your employees you are excited to have them back at work, they will be even more motivated to pick up where they left off and get started on new projects.

2) Offer the opportunity to adjust their schedule

Parents of newborns don’t get nearly enough sleep at night and have very early mornings. Flexible working hours programs have been shown to be an effective way to boost productivity at work and increase employee retention.

Providing your employees with the possibility to leave home a little later in the morning allows them to have enough time to get their newborn to daycare. Alternatively, leaving work early helps them to avoid traffic and prepare the baby for bed. This way, new parents can regain their role at work more progressively, without feeling overwhelmed.

3) Ensure the work and responsibilities are the same

It is likely that many things have changed while your employee was on parental leave; projects, colleagues, and suppliers might be different. The temp replacement might have suggested new ways to get things done. Whatever change might have taken place during the year of absence, your employee has the right to return to the same role and to the same responsibilities as before.

4) Demonstrate flexibility

Above all, your employees must feel they have the necessary latitude to ask for help when they need it. Work from home, sick days for doctors appointments and flexible hours are good ways to show your trust in them. Moreover, it reinforces the ties you have with your employees while contributing to their feeling of recognition towards you.

5) Facilitate access to daycare

It’s becoming increasingly challenging to find good daycare. If you have the means to do so, dedicate a space in your building to your employees’ children. This solution allows them to come directly to work rather than spend time in the morning driving around. If this option is not viable for your business, you can also form partnerships with different private daycares or offer the new parents financial compensation to cover its cost.

6) Offer coaching programs

Access to a professional coach or mentor can be beneficial, especially when the employees return to work after an extended period of time off. With a network of contacts, years of experience and knowledge, the coach can help your employees face daily challenges with more confidence, promoting retention and productivity.

7) Value and celebrate families

Your employees must feel like your efforts to support them during this transition are sincere. Show them you truly value their life change by taking concrete actions to value their families within the organization. Think of new group activities that are family focused or put up pictures of the newborns to congratulate the parents. In short, show your enthusiasm your own way.

Whichever way you choose to introduce this new good practice, remember that there is no perfect solution. The important point is to facilitate the transition and to show empathy throughout the process.

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