The preparation for maternity leave marks one of the most challenging transition periods of motherhood. Soon-to-be mothers are expected to navigate their workplace policies, which can lead to stress and confusion, especially when there is little support. Entering into a chaotic and also euphoric time as a new mother leaves little room for lingering uncertainty about the return to work. Failing to provide a supportive and informative environment for pregnant employees can drive them to put a pause on their career. Why do employers struggle to bring back women who left for maternity leave?
Inadequate Maternity Leave Policies
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends women take at least six weeks off work following childbirth. With the United States being the only industrialized nation without a minimum standard of paid family or medical leave, women are required to follow the procedures set forth by their employer. Unfortunately, only about one in four workers have access to paid family leave through their company. This leaves pregnant women with a tough decision to make – returning to work well before they are ready or not returning at all. Companies who fail to provide inclusive leave policies for pregnant women and new mothers are less likely to retain female talent in the workplace.
Note: we are one step closer to paid leave becoming a reality as the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a program that would provide four weeks of paid family and sick leave to many workers beginning in 2024.
Stringent Return-to-Work Schedules
Not only should mothers be presented with adequate leave after welcoming their new child, they should be given a choice about the manner in which they would like to return. There are a number of benefits to offering flextime for new mothers, including increased productivity and better mental and physical health. Flexible options can be provided in a number of ways; returning to work on a part-time schedule and transitioning slowly to fulltime, working a hybrid schedule with both remote and in-person days, and job-sharing options amongst employees. Failing to provide flexible options for new mothers shows a lack of support for the work-life balance and leaves women employees not feeling empowered.
Pressure to Perform
The transition back to the workforce after maternity leave is a time of uncertainty for new moms. Spending time away from the office can lead to a lack of confidence about their ability to perform the duties of their job at the pace they did previously. According to a study conducted by LinkedIn, returning mothers fear that they won’t be up to date on the skills required to do their job, that they won’t be able to manage both the responsibilities of their home and job successfully, and that they will be viewed as less capable at work than they were before. The pressure to perform in a high-paced environment after being away from the job for a period of time leads to exhaustion and distress. Working moms share the desire for employers to be more outspoken on policies that support new parents, or otherwise drive them away completely.
At Reserve Squad, we are committed to keeping women connected to their employer, even when they pause their career for family. Let us help you preserve your female talent pipeline by contacting us today.