When I first joined InfoTrust, I found out just a few months in that I was expecting my first child. It was such a joyous and fearful time, as I explained in my blog article from 2018, What to Expect From Your Employer When You Are Expecting. I had feared that this amazing news might impact my career but was excited to find that I had joined a company that not only celebrated my news, but supported me in the best way they could.
As I outlined in the last article, I think it should be the responsibility of the employer to exhibit these qualities:
Becoming a parent is a big and exciting deal, so there should be no other initial emotion from an employer but excitement.
All employers should be flexible with their employee to try to figure out the best arrangement for the employee. Are they hoping to work up until the day they deliver? Are they wanting to take a week off before the arrival to get things in order? Is it easier for them to go to doctors appointments in the afternoons so their partner can join them?
InfoTrust offers the parental leave policy to parents regardless of gender of the employee or no matter if the child is adopted or born to that parent. This is just fair and should be expected.
A reasonable amount of paid leave
Under FMLA we are all guaranteed time with our family. However, this does not guarantee paid leave. An employer should be working with their employee to elevate any financial burden that they can. Having a baby is expensive. Any leave that an employer awards an employee will be a valuable investment in your company because, believe me, the employee will need that job more than ever now that they have a little one to pay for!
It should be expected that an employee can let their employer know if their changing family needs are or are not being met. There needs to be open communication throughout the process. As the employee eases their way back into work, the employer should allow for continuous feedback from the employee (this should always be true, no matter if an employee is expecting/had a baby).
Our family recently welcomed our newest addition this summer, and now that I have had my second baby I would like to also add a few things that I think are of the utmost importance:
Allow your employee to ease back into work
InfoTrust offers 12 weeks of paid time off, followed by 12 weeks of a reduced work schedule (also paid). For the first three to six months after I had baby #1, Josie, I worked from home several days a week. At that time, this seemed like the best fit for my situation. Sometimes I’d flex my schedule and work in the evenings—I had a desire to jump back into work with both feet. This time, however, things were a bit different. With baby #2, Tyler, my hands are much more full, my mind is much more stretched, and to be completely honest the last three months have been a complete blur. The idea of repeating what I did after my first parental leave is not even plausible. I have been transparent with my manager and she is in complete support of me. She and I discussed that I will work three days a week for at least eight weeks and ease back into a routine. Not only has this eased my mind, but it is also helping us to truly prioritize the needs of my department. If something is not a priority for us to focus on ASAP, how much of a priority really is it?
Allow him or her to express they may be struggling (and offer support)
On my second day back to work, I woke up late. That morning, I needed to prepare green beans for my daughter’s preschool feast (for some reason this is a thing) and had to pump before taking my son to my mom’s (the best sitter ever). In the midst of running around the house, the oven had a small fire, I lost my keys, and I couldn’t find my pump. Suffice to say, I did not get started at exactly 9am and was a bit frazzled. When I logged on for the day, my manager provided support just by listening and reiterating that she knew I “got this.” As leaders of people, managers should not take that responsibility lightly. People need different things from day to day, no matter if they are returning from parental leave or not. But, it is still much appreciated during this transitional time.
Help the employee to prioritize
Lastly, as mentioned in the point about easing back into work, prioritizing work upon a return is very important. Equally important, however, is prioritizing what needs to be done while on leave. As CEO of InfoTrust Alex Yastrebenetsky mentioned in his article, a parental leave also gives the whole team a chance to look at what is important and what is not.
An employee that is expecting or returning after a leave should expect an employer and leadership to help them prioritize. Juggling multiple children at home is no easy feat, and while this parental leave was similar to my first, it also had differences. That is why I vocalized where I was and how I was feeling with my manager, and in turn, she did the same with me.
It is my hope that other employers can learn from this, and know that although everyone’s feelings may be different as they work through this exciting time in their lives, it is the employee’s expectation that they will be met with the above qualities and actions from their employer. An employee is then left with the trust to be their best version of themselves and walk away from their parental leave feeling refreshed, excited, and ready to jump back into their work.