More than 75% of expecting mothers say they’re excited to return to work, but 43% end up leaving their jobs. Yet while it’s clear that new moms need more support at work, addressing the issue in a comprehensive way is no easy feat. That’s why Fairygodboss Co-Founder and President Romy Newman teamed up with Maven Founder and CEO Kate Ryder to host a webinar — How to Support New Moms When They Return to Work — that offers practical advice in three key areas:
1. Why women leave their jobs — and why it matters when women leave their jobs
Fairygodboss research shows that the number one reason women leave their jobs is because they feel their work environment doesn’t support changes in their personal lives. Surveys also indicate that female jobseekers want more flexibility so they can advance at work and balance their family at the same time — and that all job seekers want best-in-class health benefits.
Newman explained why this should matter to companies: “If you’re advocating for policies and programs that support gender diversity, it’s always critical to tie it to financials,” she said, adding that having more women in leadership positions leads to more profit for companies.
She and Ryder shared data from The Boston Consulting Group that indicates that Fortune 500 companies with at least three female directors see a 53% increase in return on equity and a 42% increase in return on sales.
2. Women’s health in the workplace
Today, only 12% of employees in the country have access to paid leave — and even those who do take paid leave often have a very difficult time transitioning back to work. In fact, Maven has found that one in five women suffer from postpartum depression with no immediate access to treatment options, and 90% of women report separation anxiety when returning to work.
“Even men are actually looking at paternity leave and family benefits when they’re choosing their jobs,” Ryder said, adding that longer leave alone doesn’t solve the problem. Postpartum and return-to-work support are the most critical missing pieces of women’s health in the workplace, and phasing moms back into the workplace can help alleviate both emotional and physical stress and in turn improve retention.
Newman and Ryder stressed that this cannot fall entirely on the employee’s shoulders — managers, too, need to be held accountable for helping to provide additional support during this transition period.
3. Best practices for family-friendly work environments
The webinar focused on what companies can do beyond expanding their paid leave policies, illustrating what some postpartum and return-to-work programs look like. Fifth Third Bank, for instance, has a wildly popular maternity concierge program that helps pregnant women and new moms with their increased workload by shopping for groceries or taking care of other errands. Companies can do more to support breastfeeding moms who are pumping at work by improving their lactation facilities or shipping breastmilk for traveling employees.
Moreover, managers need to get in the habit of regularly checking in with employees who have just had kids — and need to let the returnee set the tone. “Some women who return from leave aren’t given new challenges and they feel discounted,” Newman explained. “It’s a difficult time to feel devalued at work.”
For more tips on how to better support new moms at work, view the webinar slides here.