Rashmi worked for a large IT company, she kept delaying her joining back date after maternity leave. Finally, after exhausting her maternity leave and leave balance, she decided to go on a sabbatical. The reason for sabbatical were mostly around uncertainty of managing work with a small baby, being part of a nuclear family and therefore not being sure about the daycare decision.
Payal worked with a bank and had joined back work after maternity leave. But the stress of work, leaving baby, performance pressure and bias got to her and she decided to go on a sabbatical after nearly 3 months of joining back.
As HR practitioners we have seen many such cases, and this brings out a very clear trend that Indian working mothers do want to join back after maternity leave but uncertainties, lack of childcare alternatives and performance/expectation biases influence them into either an exit or a sabbatical mode. A recent CTI survey states
- Almost 91% of women who take a break in India want to come back to work. (High Joining back intent)
- Indian women stay out of work for much shorter duration, an average of 11 months compared to 2.7 years in US and 1.9 years in Germany (High Joining back urgency)
- 58 % are able to rejoin full time work but even from those some give up after joining back. (Medium -Low Joining back success )
- 72% of women in India do not want to go back to their previous employer (High Current Employer aversion)
While working mothers want to join back, the employer connect during maternity leave and post maternity is not sufficient. Beyond existing support viz maternity leave, medical entitlement, there is an urgent need to provide maternity counselling/support/resources to expecting mothers throughout the maternity lifecycle so that the post maternity integration to work is smooth. Some of the topics that can be covered by companies across this stage are:
- Pre Maternity Communication/Support -
Managing anxiety, Handling changes: By Experts(Life Coach/Peers)
Building clarity on goals to be achieved: By Human Resources(and Manager):
- During Maternity Communication/Support –
Boots camp for new mothers, childcare alternatives/options, Body and Life changes: By Experts (Clinical/Life Coach):
Informal chats with working mothers (Human Resources), Manager connect : By Human Resource(and Manager):
- Post Maternity Communication/Support –
Quality parenting (managing work and parenting), Self belief –revisiting strength and personal branding, Embracing life changes : By Experts (Clinical/Parenting Coach):
Career Planning and building network, Mentoring : By Human Resources(and Manager)
Companies don’t necessarily need to customise and create such programs for their employees, especially for smaller- medium companies there might be only a handful of expecting mothers at a given time. So instead of having their own bespoke maternity solution/programs, companies can look at community program and nominate their employees on a regular basis. Additionally to make a larger impact, companies can also nominate their new dads for such programs.