Returning to work after baby – could a Career Plan help?

There is a wealth of available information around the complexities of returning to work after having a baby.  Most of it is focused on the transition into motherhood and attempting to balance this when returning to work.  All of which is extremely complex and also completely individual.  My question is: “Should we be having the ‘return to work’ talk much sooner?”

As with many of the topics we cover here, there are greater complexities than I can do justice to in a single article (such as debate around workplace participation and productivity post maternity leave). So today, my question is about planning.

The government’s Paid Parental Leave policy is aimed at increasing productivity and it is commendable that women should not be disadvantaged while on maternity leave, but how can businesses manage the integration back into the workforce?  On the flip side, once you have a baby planning to return to work is generally the last thing on your mind.  My own transition from person to mother came with even more complexities than I could have imagined and like most change is managed by each of us in completely different and individual ways.

Most women (myself included) like to think their return to work was very ‘normal’. In my case, I did not return to a managerial role as I chose to be part-time.  I did not plan when or how I would return.  I did not go back due to financial necessity or for my career development.  The impetus for my return was the offer of a place at childcare near home.

In terms of deliberate career planning, there was none.  It is possible that my employer hoped I would not return and so there was no conversation until I instigated it.   However, I did return and I believe they received great value from a dedicated and skilled employee.

In essence career planning is an on-going process, and when done well becomes an organic transition based on two-way dialogue, enabling the planners (both employee and employer) to be agile and flexible as opportunities arise.  I am wondering if businesses and people who choose to be mothers should be talking sooner?  Can we have the conversation about returning to work much, much earlier?

Posted by Felicity McLaughlin

This is the latest in a series of articles about career development for women, espcially those returning to work. If you would like to discuss your own career options following maternity leave and/or raising children, or following long-term carer’s leave, please contact Bravo Consulting about how we can help you achieve your career goals.

BonnieSue Nevin

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