“I’m pregnant, not a corpse. And what maternity break? It’s the most normal thing on earth to produce a child. It is high time the media back off, and stop treating me any different than I ever was.?” – Kareena Kapoor Khan, Actor
I really laughed out on reading this statement of the leading lady of Indian cinema. Indeed in India, we take maternity so seriously as if it is a critical disease.
Being a mother of 1.5 years old, I fully understand that it is a complete transition of life. A woman changes completely once she becomes a mother.
Pregnancy days are far better. One can continue with the routine unless the doctor advices complete bed rest. The real challenges start after the child birth. Physical changes, hormonal imbalances, emotional trauma caused due to the sudden fall in hormone levels, sleepless nights and what not. And somewhere in between there is an eye on the end day of the maternity leave, and this is here the dilemma of the working mother starts. To join or not to join ... The thought process begins.
“How will my child function if I am not around” is the biggest worry every new mom has. There is always a battle within that she fights. Some of the women overcome these thoughts and resume jobs but there are many who cannot continue with their jobs because of lack of support systems at home.
I feel herein lies the role of a supporting HR. A step taken by the HR at this juncture will help to reduce attrition arising out of maternity. Almost all organizations are focused on gender diversity and they want to increase number of female employees. But if you want to employ them, then the workplace also has to be ready to accommodate them. Yes, right from the washrooms to the crèche, every need of the women has to be taken care of and that is how a women friendly workplace can be made.
Some tips as to how HR can make the comeback easier for a new mom:
Encouragement and Flexibility: Encourage new moms to ease work & minimize the emotional strain and build up their confidence. Organization can provide flexible work options. Options like part time working, work from home can be of great help.
Be the support system they need: New working moms may feel uncomfortable in expressing their needs, anxieties. Approach them and ask if they need help.
Mentoring & Support groups : New mothers are undergoing lot of emotional and physical changes also there is always a guilt of keeping away the little one hence a support group or a mentor who has already been through this situation can be of great help.
Reserve a small room for new mothers: Arrange a room to attend their nursing needs. You just need to arrange a safe place with electricity plug and a chair to relax.
Provide crèche facility: This will be a cherry on cake for them. This will not only give them mental support as the child will be nearby and accessible but also will increase their workplace productivity.
This too shall pass on – the mantra: Tell them that they have survived their career during the most critical part of their life, this phase will pass and things will settle down. Be a patient listener, that’s all they need.
Start Re-launch your career program: HR may recruit female candidates who had to take a career break because of maternity. Such programs will act as morale boosters and also can be a good organizational branding strategy. There are organizations which are providing part time jobs, work from home assignments to new moms
Motherhood is a boon given to women by nature. Being the professionals who work for people we can nurture this boon. If we stand behind our people in such life changing events, trust me they will always be grateful for it. I feel this is the real Human Resource Management one can do otherwise any one can print the annual pay revision letters.