With three in five employees saying they’re likely to switch employers after their first child, how confident are you that you’re retaining the talent you’ve worked so hard to nurture and develop?

As a seasoned HR Practitioner and founder of hr inspire, I’ve seen first-hand the impact on businesses whose approach to supporting new parents is lacking  – not only the cost of recruiting, training and inducting a new person into the team, but the extortionate potential cost of employment litigation due to poor practices.

But it’s not only about the risk of doing it wrong - there’s the huge value that returning parents bring to a business.  From increased dedication & loyalty through to the many new skills learned as a parent, there are countless reasons to make sure you’re supporting your team to return to work.

Six top tips to support returning parents

Plan Ahead 

Supporting those returning from parental leave begins before their first day in the office. Have a set of robust family friendly policies that encourage communication and ensures your line management know how and when to reach out to their team members.  Those “Keeping in Touch” days are worth their weight in gold!

Communicate Openly 

Provide the opportunity for the returnee to be bold in telling you their ideal option regarding potential working patterns. If an employee doesn’t feel they can discuss the option of a more flexible way of working, they’re far more likely to look for a new employer who will.

Give a Little 

Try to not make assumptions on what they can do, encourage a phased return to work so the returnee has time to adjust. Many employees return with the intention of getting straight back into work, but taking on too much too quickly means you could be looking at a leaver in the first six months.

Expect the Unexpected 

It’s common for absences during the first few weeks. From a germ picked up at nursery to childcare issues, the adjustment can take a little time.

Check Ins

Schedule more than the normal 1-1’s on “checking in” on how they are feeling. The lines of communication being kept open means any issues or need for support can be picked up on and dealt with as the need arises.

Reward the Right Behaviour 

While many SMEs can only budget for statutory leave, there’s real value in rewarding employees who return and demonstrate the right behaviour. Consider introducing a bonus after six months successful return to work, showing your employees how much you value their contribution. 

The benefits of a supportive approach to returning parents

As an employer, if you give the minimum you’ll get the minimum back. So, what are the benefits of going the extra mile?

Keeping your Top Talent 

Your business will benefit from having skilled loyal employees who know your way of working and enjoy coming to work for you.

Brand New Skills 

The additional skills that parents bring back to the workplace are not to be overlooked. New parents have many transferable skills that are a great asset for your business – from multitasking through to resilience and new coping mechanisms.

Attracting Your Next Employee 

As a business that demonstrates great support for parents at work, your business becomes a far more desirable workplace. Let your reputation do your recruitment for you and attract top talent to your business. 

As someone who has built a business on supportive and flexible working, I know the huge value that working parents bring.  Having a child doesn’t mean the loss of the skills, knowledge and expertise gained over the length of a career.  What’s more, the perception that only larger organisations provide great family friendly policies means the potential loss of current & future skills within your small/medium business.

Think “long term” how effective new parents at work are, if given the support a maternity/paternity returner worker will do more for you.  In return you will find that they will be more flexible with you at those times of business need.

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