Returning to work after having a baby can be incredibly stressful for new mothers. Priya Balasubramanian, technical lead with The Hartford’s Chief Information Office, knows firsthand just how difficult it can be. Her daughter was 3 months old as she planned to return to work and uncertainty flooded her mind.
“Part of me was missing all the fun at work,” says Priya, who was responsible for DevOps and coordinating overall release readiness for The Hartford’s claim system. “But a bigger part of me worried about how I would manage work, nursing and baby care.”
She feared the separation anxiety she and her baby would face.
Priya returned to full-time work in November 2019, and her worst fears were never realized. She did face some challenges, including the coronavirus stay-at-home mandate a few months after her return. But Priya’s transition was easier than she expected once she figured out her new workday logistics.
The Power of Workplace Culture
A family-friendly workplace culture was a big factor in Priya’s successful return to work. From the moment Priya told her manager and teammates she was pregnant, she had their backing and encouragement. This immediately calmed her fears that motherhood might jeopardize her job or perceived ability to work to full capacity. It’s a bias against mothers that Priya had seen at previous employers.
“They were happy for me,” Priya says, “and completely flexible and understanding of those times when my health or the baby would be a priority.”
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Since then, Priya has experienced that same support at all levels within the organization. The culture, along with the following three factors, helped her make a soft and successful landing back in the working world.
Like many working moms, one of Priya’s top priorities is having the flexibility to adapt her schedule to the needs of her daughter. As her leave came to a close, she and her manager discussed a back-to-work plan that let her work from home three days a week. She was also offered an exciting assignment as tech lead for a new product rollout. In addition, her DevOps responsibilities expanded.
Priya’s new role leveraged her skills and experience, and allowed her to flex her hours in the best way for her and her daughter.
“I can do the work any time I want,” Priya says. “I’m not constrained by certain hours.”
This flexibility became essential when The Hartford encouraged remote work due to the coronavirus. During this time, Priya transitioned to full-time work at home. Her daughter, whose daycare center closed due to the coronavirus, is now home with her.
“It’s challenging to balance a child and work,” Priya says, “but I can take breaks when the baby needs me, and put in whatever hours are necessary to get the work done.”
Priya has enjoyed many other family-friendly benefits through her employer, including:
Paid parental leave
A tax-free flexible spending account specifically for childcare expenses
Working parent interest group
Lactation rooms in the building for nursing mothers
The Hartford also offers a suite of unique, personalized services for women at every step of the family journey, such as:
Dedicated care advocates
Breast milk shipping for traveling mothers
Adoption and fertility support
A Progressive Employer
Priya feels fortunate to have an employer that puts a premium on work-life balance, and helping new mothers transition back to their jobs while staying successful in their careers.
“At The Hartford we’re proud to provide a broad range of programs and benefits to support our employees so they can continue to thrive in their careers as they start and grow their families,” says Tom Warters, Head of Total Rewards and HR operations for The Hartford. “With so many parents in our workforce, we feel it’s important to be considerate and supportive to help manage the demands that working parents can face.”
This is the commitment Priya felt from the day she shared news of her pregnancy.
“It’s a top-down thing,” Priya says. “Every part of The Hartford organization is committed to this cause and values women, as well as the diverse populations that work here. At The Hartford, there’s also no distinction between male and female, unlike many other companies. I’m treated like everyone else here.”
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