Having a child is a life changing experience so it's no surprise that many women find the transition from being home on an extended maternity leave to returning to work difficult, no matter how much they love their job. What may be surprising is how many women truly have a hard time when it comes to returning to work, and even consider quitting as an option.
Over the last few years many companies in the US have worked to improve their maternity leave packages despite the US not having a mandated paid maternity leave law. Many companies have realized the incredible pool of talent they have with women in the workforce and have worked to ensure expectant mothers have adequate leave in hopes they will return to their companies and their jobs. However a new survey is showing that a lot of women who return from maternity leave just aren't happy when they return to work and that may be due to the lack of support they receive.
In a survey done by UK magazine, MMB, which calls itself the modern working mothers magazine, one third of women surveyed who returned to work after maternity leave were so unhappy they wanted to quit. The magazine asked 1000 women, three quarters of whom were in management positions or higher, how they felt when they returned to work after their maternity leave, and the results should be an eye opener for all employers
Over one third of those surveyed felt isolated and without support when they returned from their maternity leave, so much so they felt they wanted to quit their jobs. Only 18% were confident in their position and happy about their return to work.
A whopping 37% of new mothers felt isolated after their return to the workforce with only 17% feeling like they were receiving the support and communication they needed from their employer to make their return to work seamless. What makes these numbers more shocking is that employees in the UK can take up to 52 weeks maternity leave, with the first 39 weeks paid.
While many employers assume that providing adequate maternity leave is enough support for expectant and new mothers as employees, it seems they're failing when it comes to supporting these women when they re-enter the workforce. The survey shows that 90% of these women had no support or coaching offered when they returned to work, and 60% were worried to ask for flexibility in their work day to accommodate their new role as parent out of fear of it being rejected.
Abbie Coleman, founder of MMB wants employers to offer more support to women returning to the workforce after maternity leave. “Our survey shows it’s time for action, not just talk", Coleman said before speaking about new initiatives her magazine has introduced called, #LeaveLoudly and #ReturnLouder.
“#LeaveLoudly is about senior managers doing just that, to help normalize flexible working and change working culture to focus on production, not presenteeism. Along the same principle is #ReturnLouder. We want moms returning from maternity leave, or time out raising children, to let everyone know that there is this huge talent pool of highly skilled parents who often get overlooked. We need to change the way we look and engage all returners.”
While adequate maternity leave is one step in ensuring women have jobs to return to after welcoming a child, supporting them when they return by being flexible and understanding about their new home responsibilities can go a long way in ensuring a seamless transition back to work.