By Liz Sebag-Montefiore, Director 10Eighty
The world is changing. The current economic climate has significantly shifted the psychological contract between employer and employee.
Individuals increasingly want to work for companies that both develop and support them in their career aspirations. Research tells us people will stay with an organisation because they are developed rather than because of salary.
At a fundamental level maternity coaching is an effective and pragmatic way to enable mothers to make a successful return to work. It puts the focus on the positives of retaining talented working mothers, supported through policy, a buddy system, and coaching so they enjoy the best of both worlds; being a mum and pursuing a career.
Empower with coaching
Companies recognise the benefits that a diverse workforce brings to the performance of their business. Strong organisations need to demonstrate their support to ‘at risk’ groups (in this case senior women returning from maternity leave) in order to be considered a credible, professional employer who can attract and retain talented people.
Issues around maternity are frequently cited as reasons for the perceived “glass ceiling” preventing women rising above a certain level of seniority in business.
Maternity coaching empowers working women to take responsibility for ensuring their maternity leave experience is positive both for themselves and their employer. It also increases the retention of highly skilled employees within organisations, thereby reducing costs associated with re-hiring and induction.
The benefits of coaching
A maternity coaching package provides bespoke, in the moment support for women, before, during and after maternity leave. It provides space and support to address urgent work or personal needs while affording an opportunity to build confidence and calm throughout maternity leave, coping with a new baby and returning to work.
A smooth and effective return to work enhances confidence and productivity, while enabling the retention of female talented women and investing in their future potential. Maternity coaching bolsters organisational diversity strategies and boosts the employer brand so the company is attractive to women who want a flourishing career combined with work life balance.
Decisions about returning to work are often complex and coaching affords a woman the opportunity to clarify her thoughts and feelings around her maternity leave and return from leave.
Stage 1 – Pregnancy Planning
- Plan for work cover during absence
- Agree how to stay in touch while on leave
- Communicate arrangements internally and with external clients
- Identify and tackle any emotional and practical worries
Stage 2 – Maternity Leave – Decision Making
- When to return to work
- Create a strategy for returning to work
- Prepare a business case for any flexible work arrangements that may be requested
- Identify and tackle and emotional and practical worries
- Keeping in touch
Stage 3 – Return to Work – Re-Engagement
- Agree realistic goals for return to the workplace
- Identify and deal with any skills gap or knowledge gap resulting from leave
- Introduce and test flexible arrangements
- Establish internal mentor and network
- Rebuild confidence
Coaching for confidence
Maternity coaching is not a luxury nor a perk. It is important because it will help you retain your best talent and bolster your reputation as an employer of choice.
Women returning from maternity leave may feel a mixture of emotions and uncertainty about returning to work. Common fears are “will my brain work?” and “will I be able to concentrate, will I worry all day?” and they may also feel under-confident and de-skilled.
Returners may, on the other hand, feel they have acquired new skills gained from motherhood and so re-frame these as relevant to the workplace. Coaching can encourage a woman to think about integrating new skills with previous ones, enabling her to identify change and growth, rather than focussing on her absence from the workplace.
Support maternity returners
Taking leaving from paid employment, becoming a mother, then returning to work can be a difficult transition for a working mother. Absence from the workplace for an extended period alongside the psychological shift of becoming a mother, can add stress to an already challenging change in status.
Support systems and solutions aligned with family-friendly policies at work, and understanding from colleagues and managers, will make a real difference.
Remember that in some industries around 50% of the workforce, customers and stakeholders are female. Women really matter to a company’s employment brand, reputation and corporate image. Coaching increases the retention of highly skilled employees within organisations and reduces the costs of re-hiring and induction.