How to support employees transitioning to parenthood

Employers can save thousands of pounds, retain talented staff and increase employee commitment if they offer good transition programmes for mums and dads, an event last week found.

The Keeping Talent Through Transition event held by My Family Care on Thursday heard that misunderstandings which can have significant negative connotations often come about as a result of parents taking leave without employers addressing the enormity of the change they are facing.

HR and diversity experts said managers often don’t speak about the maternity leave and transition because they are scared that will say the wrong thing. They may sideline women out of an assumption that they have too much else on their plate.  All of this can end up with parents feeling undervalued.

However, if they are equipped to have one to one conversations with parents going on parental leave such misunderstandings can be avoided. One to one coaching can be combined with group coaching and networking also show parents that they are not alone in their fears about juggling, career risks and their feelings of being undervalued.

These days group coaching can be virtual and delivered via webinar. Parent transition coaching can also include webinars on parenting issues, buddies, sharing of working parent case studies, facilitated Keeping in Touch days [for individuals or groups] and manager and individual toolkits as well as buddies and mentors.

Several speakers pointed out the business case for parent transition coaching – with several citing significant improvement in retention rates after parental leave and increased commitment.

They also mentioned the need for inclusion of non-parents since many may think of starting a family in the future to get wider buy-in to transition programmes. Some key takeaways from the event were as follows:

  • Communication is vital – that means ensuring any support on offer is known
  • Tripartite coaching can help – this involves the parent, their manager and a coach and can open up conversations about areas that might not be addressed otherwise. It is also a good way to get more men involved in the coaching process and is a recognition that managers are a vital cog in the transition process
  • Success stories should be profiled
  • Consistency in how you treat employees on parental leave is important
  • Estimate the cost to the business of the loss of talent
  • There are several different transitions during parenthood, for instance, when children start school
  • Parenting can be seen as a crash course in leadership and the skills gained should be recognised.

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