Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

The need for flexibility in the workplace when returning from maternity

By Fiona Wylie, Founder of Brand Champions

Having been a victim of a non-negotiable full-time only return to work after my first child, I couldn’t feel more passionate about the need for flexibility in the workplace post-maternity.  Too much talent is going to waste because working parents aren’t being given these options.  Adjustable schedules and the opportunity to work remotely as two such examples all play a role in helping parents transition back to work, while balancing their careers and family responsibilities. A recent study by Careers after Babies revealed that only a tiny percentage (13%) of jobs held by mothers were suitable for full-time return after maternity leave, with over half expressing interest in a four-day workweek option, saying they’d return to work if offered.

How can this be?

As the demand for flexibility rises, employers must reconsider structures to support better mothers and parents re-entering the workforce. The availability of work, flexible hours, and part-time positions has become increasingly important for parents making this transition. This shift benefits parents and reflects a broader shift towards creating more accommodating and understanding workplaces that respond effectively to the evolving dynamics of modern family life and in my experience also results in a higher commitment to work and focus on outputs.

Creating a Work Environment Centred Around Family Values

Embracing a ‘family first’ approach, at work revolves around empathy, understanding and supportive leadership where employees’ family needs are given importance to their duties. This mindset promotes a culture of adaptability and transparent communication empowering staff to handle family commitments without compromising their work obligations.

The role of leadership is vital in exemplifying these principles by showcasing care for employees and their families through actions and policies. This strategy boosts job satisfaction, staff retention and fosters a more united team spirit by recognising and accommodating each team member’s diverse requirements.

Statistics reveal that 85% of women exit full-time employment within three years of becoming mothers due to a lack of flexibility. This not only unfairly affects parents and the upcoming workforce but also incurs significant costs for businesses through high employee turnover, amounting to substantial financial losses.

At Brand Champions, we have ingrained flexibility into our foundation. Our team members wholeheartedly understand that our workplace prioritises family values. Whether it’s needing time with your children, adjusting to part-time hours, or attending school plays, with your kids – we support it all wholeheartedly.

That doesn’t mean we’re not putting our clients first, the dedication and loyalty to our clients is second to none.

Important Support for Parents Coming Back

Resources and rules for mothers returning from maternity leave should include scheduling, options for remote work, part-time opportunities, and phased reentry. Flexible hours allow mothers to adjust their schedules to fit childcare needs, while remote work options let them work from home, reducing the hassle of commuting and striking a balance between work and personal life.

Phased returns help ease mothers into the workplace. Starting with hours and increasing workload helps them transition smoothly and adapt comfortably to their dual roles. These types of support are key in fostering a workplace that values employee well-being during the life change of becoming a parent.

Flexibility: Going Above and Beyond

How can this be accomplished? Innovative practices, like job sharing, condensed workweeks, and emergency child care assistance, are reshaping the work setting to address the requirements of today’s diverse workforce.  I was lucky enough to be offered a job share with my first child fourteen years ago which at the time was very rare.  Having a manager who put family values at the heart of everything made this possible.

Job sharing permits two or more employees to divide the responsibilities and hours of a full-time role, providing a solution for those looking to work hours without compromising their careers.

Condensed workweeks enable employees to fulfil their work hours in days, granting additional days off that can be valuable for spending time with family or attending to personal matters.

In times of childcare needs, whether through on-site facilities or partnerships with providers, offering emergency support serves as a safety net for parents when their usual childcare arrangements fall through. This ensures that unforeseen challenges do not interfere with their commitments. These forward-thinking strategies enhance work-life balance and contribute to an involved, efficient, and content workforce.

The Positive Impact; Business Advantages of Supporting Parents

Providing parents with work options yields business advantages, such as enhanced employee retention, the attraction of top talent, and an improved company image. When employees perceive that their family obligations are recognised and valued through work arrangements, their loyalty to the organisation grows, leading to low turnover rates. A National Survey study by ONES found when comparing fixed work arrangements pre-pandemic to flexible working post-pandemic, “Nearly 94% of flexible workers said they were happy or very happy”. Flexibility significantly increases happiness which is an essential factor in business.

Additionally, it aids in safeguarding mothers and parents re-entering the workforce after maternity leave. Let’s not lose this amazing talent to drive forward marketing with impact and allow people to still love what they do.