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Bob Bannister

iManage Performance


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Blog: How family-friendly is your organisation?


Any organisation with more than a few employees will have staff that are having children. 

It’s a big deal, not only for them, but for the employer too.
Even though this is the case, many organisations provide little in the way of learning support for these staff. Interestingly those employers that do assist their staff plan and prepare for this major exciting life change can cite multiple benefits as a result. Real measurable benefits. 
In one example where a comprehensive evaluation exercise for a client’s Maternity coaching programme was undertaken, it revealed the following results: 
  • Return rates (of women returning from mat leave) increased by 4%
  • Retention rates (of women staying after maternity leave) increased by 15%
  • In a telephone evaluation exercise, 25% of the ladies voluntarily said that they would not have returned to work following maternity if they hadn’t attended the workshops.
So what types of training can be given in this area?  
Workshops to provide pregnant employees with confidence through change, a supportive network and practical ways to increase their productivity and professionalism covering topics such as:
  • ‘Professional to parent’ – managing your change of image at work
  • Maintaining your confidence and assertiveness through change
  • Strengthening your relationships at work
  • Creating and communicating a handover plan
  • Setting up a support network and communication plan
  • Preparing for the maternity leave ‘culture shock’.
Workshops, workshops, workshops
Workshops to encourage new mothers to reconnect with work and colleagues in a safe, supportive environment and to begin to plan their return covering topics such as:
  • ‘Reconnecting’ – sharing of experiences, highs and lows and key learns,
  • Assessing options for returning to work,
  • Preparing your first ‘return to work’ meeting with your line manager,
  • Preparing for the return to work – the practical considerations,
  • Managing your change of image from ‘parent’ back to ‘professional’.
Workshops to support those employees who have recently returned from maternity leave to be able to confidently and quickly reintegrate into the workplace covering topics such as:
  • Benefits of working parents to the family
  • Banish the guilty feelings
  • Managing separation anxiety positively
  • The affects of childcare on the family
  • Time management for managing work/family balance
  • Agreeing roles and responsibilities with your family at home and your team at work
  • Managing your own stress levels
  • Managing your image and your relationships
  • Reviewing your career plan.  
Or how about learning for line managers to support those employees who have recently returned from maternity/adoption leave, to be able to confidently and quickly reintegrate into the workplace covering topics such as:
  • The importance of managing an employee well through a period of maternity
  • The company and policy-based requirements of managing an employee through maternity
  • Additional support that can be offered to boost confidence levels of employees and assist in retaining talent.  
A National Childbirth Trust survey of over 1500 working mums confirmed that 33% of respondents reported concern about the attitude of their boss and/or colleagues as being one of the main worries about returning to work.  Clearly there is so much more that can be done to help employees and employers manage this whole area. 
Duncan Fraser in Personnel Today 2008 said “The cost to a company of a badly managed maternity leave is not purely financial…it also negatively affects client relationships, performance, organisational knowledge and goodwill”.  
I think this is an area that warrants greater attention in the workplace and I’d love to hear what you think. 
Bob Bannister is a consultant at organisational training provider, iManage Performance.

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Bob Bannister


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