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Supporting your new parents AFTER parental leave

Returning to work after becoming a parent can cause a lot of different emotions, from excitement and relief to guilt and nervousness. 

For many it can feel energising to be able to socialise freely with adults again, to ‘switch on their brain’ or simply enjoy a cup of coffee while it’s still hot!  But on the flipside, it can also feel daunting. This transition marks a lot of new change including leaving their baby with a carer (often for the first time), new home routines and often not getting a full night’s sleep.  With all this in mind, re-entering the workplace after time out can be stressful.

In this last article in a series of three, I’ve set out the conversations that businesses should be having and the information they should be sharing with new parents AFTER they return from parental leave.

1. Provide support to help your returning parent get back up to speed

Along with changes in the business, the routine of your team member’s day will have changed – often significantly.  Sitting at a desk, being out at a work site or attending back-to-back meetings requires a different type of focus and new parents can find their first few weeks back at work mentally draining.  Consider what support they will need to help get them through.  This could include spending time with their leader, teammates or business partners and managing expectations (including their own!) to alleviate the pressure for them to immediately pick up where they left off.

2. Connect your team member with support networks

Connect your returning parent with a parent support network if you have one in place, or buddy them up with someone else who has recently returned from parental leave so they can share their experiences. 

3. Proactively share your sick leave policy and their sick leave balance

When children are little, they get sick a lot, especially if they’re in shared care facilities.  To support your returning parents, talk them through your sick leave policy (including the ability to take sick leave for their children) and share their current sick leave balance with them.  Don’t assume they will know where to find this information – they have enough on their plate!

4. Share any additional financial support available to them now that they’ve returned

This could include additional payments that are triggered once they’ve been back a work for a while if you have these, topping up their annual leave payments to full pay over the next 12 months if you’ve chosen to do this, and any pay-rises and bonus payments they’ll be eligible for across the current financial year.

5. Keep discussing flexible working options

Flexible working needs to be just that.  Flexible.  You can’t assume that the arrangements you agreed on when your new parent first returned are still working for them.  What parents may need in terms of flexible working can change over time and over the years.  So, keep the conversation about flex ‘always on’, letting your team member know that things can always be reassessed if arrangements aren’t working for them.

6. Provide specific support via a return-to-work programme

Returning to work programmes provide practical support and connection with other new parents at a similar life stage in an open and supportive environment.  Unfortunately, very few organisations in Aotearoa run programmes like these but they are hugely beneficial for returning parents.  I have designed a specific programme to help address this.  The programme has been designed off the back of years of experience (and a passion for) leading, mentoring, and coaching new parents at work.

The ideas in this article are taken from my “Back to Business after Baby” course – a combination of workshops, 1-1 coaching and sessions for leaders.  It can be tailored to your needs and your budget, and provides support from before parental leave onwards.  If you’d like to receive a copy my brochure or have a chat to find out more, please get in touch on

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