What I have learnt from going on maternity leave
“The company will replace me.”
“What if they realise they don’t need me?”
“How will I cope when I come back?”
For those who’ve been on maternity leave, I bet these thoughts ran through your mind. It’s a stressful time, and not just because you have a baby on the way. Leaving the company for such a long time can make you worry, but I’ve seen first hand how well a company can manage this transition.
Support from the start
When I told JourneyHR I was pregnant I was met with nothing but happiness. We celebrated together and they took to the drawing board for an action plan.
When I was told that an interim replacement was the solution, the jitters came back. “What if they’re better than me?” “What if they make my role redundant?”. These thoughts lasted all of 3 seconds. Having been through maternity leave themselves, my directors knew my concerns before I did and addressed them immediately. I was offered the chance to look through CVs and give thoughts on the candidates. I was always told the reasoning if they toyed with the idea of hiring someone more senior – nothing went unsaid or assumed.
When I finally did go on leave, the team kept me in the loop. If someone new joined, I got an intro, along with their CV so I knew a bit about them when I was back. This was a choice though – I could take it or leave it, no judgement either way. Once I’d given birth to my daughter, JourneyHR sent a beautiful bouquet of flowers and the founders took me and my girls out to lunch soon after – what more could a gal want?!
I like keeping busy and even with two daughters I did sometimes want to know what was going on with my clients and team.
My directors would keep in contact; I would let them know how the kids were doing and they would update me with any changes to the business – but only if and when I wanted. When I was ready to get an update, the team always worked around my schedule to make sure my new-born’s afternoon nap wasn’t disturbed by a ringing phone!
Back to work
When it was time for me to come back, it did feel a bit like school – I was nervous. The company did everything to make me feel settled though. Everything was set up – from my laptop, phone and even my client meetings. The team trusted me to manage my own time and I made sure this faith was not misplaced.
After a whole year away I was unsure about the path my career progression would take. Would maternity leave be a bump in the road or put me on a whole different track? Not at all. My progression was picked up straight away and I haven’t been overlooked for any opportunity to develop myself and my skills. In many ways, it’s almost as though I never left.
What is maternity leave now?
I know I’ve been very lucky. My maternity leave has been the most stress free, loyalty enhancing experience I have encountered – both as an employee and as an HR consultant. I’d encourage everyone to think about some of these tactics when their staff go on parental leave.