One in three women describe the experience of returning to work after maternity leave as ” very difficult or difficult” (NCT 2012). It is no surprise that 26% of women do not even return to their previous employment after having a baby, and a further 11-20% leave within the first year based on their experience of this transition.
I became interested in the transition after we helped several mothers with ad-hoc childcare as they prepared to return to work. Some used our services to attend courses, others to for crucial meetings, and most for keeping in touch days. Many mothers also asked me for advice about returning to work.
As a paediatrician, I was aware of the challenges with sleep regression and behavioural difficulties often seen when a mother returns to work, but I had no advice to give women about how to come through the emotionally challenging transition with a desire to remain in the careers they love.
So I researched the topic the way I would investigate any medical query. I reviewed the published literature, interviewed retention specialists, HR directors, women who had undergone the transition and maternity leave coaches. I’ve summarised what I learned from this research into these two reports:
- What employees returning from maternity leave really want
- The Seven habits behind high maternity retention rate
I also developed a benchmark test to help managers assess the support they provide women with after maternity leave and identify areas for improvement.
I really believe that this information can help improve the experience of women re-entering their careers and will summarise what I learned in a series of blog posts.
If you or someone you know is going through or planning to return to work after maternity leave please share these posts with them. Let me know your thoughts about my findings, it is important to get this information right so more mothers can remain in the careers they love.