As a manager, you play a central role in supporting an employee’s return to work. One way to do that is to stay connected while the employee is on leave.
An employee has no obligation to stay in touch during their parental leave, but many prefer to maintain some level of connection and accessibility. That’s why it’s important to ask if they’d like to hear about training and social events, company announcements or project updates. Sharing team news is a great way to ensure an employee feels valued and included.
Affirm that your employee will indeed be on leave, and is not expected to work from home. Assure them of your support for whatever level of connection they choose, and encourage them to be conservative. Often expectant parents will overestimate their energy and underestimate the demands that come with a new baby. You might ask:
- Are you interested in staying connected to the team while you’re on leave?
- How can we help you do that, while still respecting your time away?
- Will you let us know if you change your mind at some point? That’s okay!
Keep employees in the loop according to the communication plan you established before they went on leave. Let them know it’s okay to change their mind, and help reset expectations with the team, if needed.
If a new parent emails a photo or sends a birth announcement, post it on the office fridge or bulletin board. This helps keep the team member in everyone’s mind, and conveys a sense of group support. Your new parent will be pleased to see this notification when they return to work.
Encourage your team member to bring their new addition to work for a meet and greet, or schedule a video chat, and be available during the visit to show genuine interest.
Everyone will have different wants and needs during their leave. You have to find the right fit between fostering a sense of belonging while still respecting an employee’s time away.