Almost 80% of female workers who become pregnant want to return to work after a period of leave. This should be celebrated! Yet only around a fifth of all women who do so feel supported on their return.  That includes around 70% working at management level and above.  Organisations need to embed solutions to identify and remove the barriers that lead to that lack of support and are making our workplaces less inclusive and successful.

Imagine a workplace where everyone’s needs are identified and met, where the path to success is clear for miles and where the unexpected never happens. Sounds like a utopian dream, right?  People change, circumstances alter and diversions will appear as if from nowhere.  Change is unavoidable.

There are however, ways to ensure that even in difficult circumstances, organisations and staff can work together to create workplaces which embrace change and use it to create a nurturing and supportive culture that brings balance and respects everyone’s priorities.

Women account for around half of the UK workforce. It should come as no surprise to any of us that some of them will have children during their working life – women have babies, who knew?  Yet overwhelmingly, maternity leave is still managed by many companies as something with a negative impact on the workplace.

Finding and retaining the best talent should be the ultimate goal for every company, yet so many let high achieving, highly skilled workers slip through their fingers.  The average career lasts about 40 years. Pregnancy, and the admittedly sometimes difficult period afterwards of juggling work commitments and small children, lasts maybe 5 or 6.  With the right company culture and support, everyone should be able to ride that out with the minimum of impact. Losing talent isn’t only a real concern within companies themselves , but has wider economic impacts too, creating skills gaps, negative outcomes in terms of gender related pay and less diverse workplaces overall.

We work closely with a major high-end supermarket where two major Operations Logistics roles are held by women. That organisation’s management identified the need for those roles to become beacons for other women returning to work.  They realised it was vital to retain women in these and other specialist leadership roles, and using a maternity on-boarding and off-boarding programme that used the real-life experiences of female returners was the best way to achieve it.

Parmjit Flora, Senior Operations at Ocado shares her own experience. “The Know You More coaches have already supported many of my managers by providing a supported ‘back to work’ programme following maternity that helps them excel in their role. My own experience of coaching with Know You More has been excellent: I found the sessions helped change my perspective on what I was capable of and enhanced not only my work life, but also my personal life. Without question, the KYM coaching sessions have made me a better leader.

Feedback from colleagues is similarly positive and I’m confident it will produce real long-term benefits for my team.  Allowing us to support our talented leaders and encourage more diversity within our management team and throughout the organisation.”

We’ve used our experience, and our work with teams like Parmjit’s, to create a coaching programme specifically designed for female returners. A development programme that explores options, connects to a new identity and provides an independent space for support throughout the maternity journey. It helps answer questions on how the departure and return will be planned, fulfilled and how to manage the expectations of others alongside those we place on ourselves. Coaching ensures a confident departure and transition back into the workplace.

If would like to learn how Know You More can support all levels of returner programmes including maternity, paternity, adoption, carer leave and long term absence you can contact us via:

Email:       Tel: +44 (0)131 618 6084