No two people feel the same way about their return to work after parental leave. This can be a difficult transition for many people, so acknowledge the presence of mixed emotions.
Here are seven things you can do to support a new parent as he or she returns to work:
- Recommend a midweek start.
Starting with a short week helps ease the transition back to work.
- Welcome them back.
Schedule a personal lunch during their first week, express interest in their family’s well-being, remember the baby’s name and ask to see pictures.
- Stay up to date on any benefits your organization offers to new parents, such as New Parent Career Coaching or internal parent groups.
- Acknowledge that new moms may need extra breaks.
Be sensitive to the privacy of a new mother’s choices, and make sure they have access to a secure space to express milk. Offer to assist with coverage of job responsibilities or flexibility in scheduling meetings, as needed.
- Keep team members and other stakeholders informed of transition plans.
If team members have been carrying an extra workload, they may be anxious to ditch those added responsibilities. Recognize some team members may need guidance on reasonable transition expectations, while others may be reluctant to give up choice assignments.
- Be aware of how your own work-life decisions may impact team members.
If you aren’t good at integrating work and family, shore up employee confidence in their own development potential. Let them know there are many different ways to be successful leaders in your organization.
- Set aside time to discuss family and career in the employee’s first few weeks back.
Ask employees how you can help them be successful, then follow through. Encourage ongoing discussion about tasks and work schedules.
Remember, the first year of a child’s life can be a big transition for new parents. Parents may not feel overwhelmed at first, but their feelings may change three months or six months down the road. Continue to check in, be patient, and offer your support.