Tag Archives: return to work

Transitional Tips for Employees Returning to Work After Maternity Leave

Joanne Kondo, CHRP

Joanne Kondo, CHRP

I recently returned to work after spending the past 12 months on maternity leave. Transitioning back into the workforce after such a long period of time off was both incredibly stressful and easy at the same time. While I was understandably feeling stressed and worried about leaving my child, I was also put at ease knowing that my employer was going to make my transition back to work as smooth as possible.

I am incredibly fortunate to have an employer that has not only offered me maternity leave top-up, but has also offered a great return to work plan. Although I chose to dive right back into work full-time, my employer let me know well in advance of my return date that I had the choice of easing back to work on a temporary part-time basis which would allow my child and myself to get used to a new schedule. Also of great help was my Employee Assistance Plan (EAP). With one easy phone call they compiled a list of daycare centres close to my home.

As HR practitioners we need to think of practical ways to transition parents back in to work. While not all companies can afford EAP’s, there are a few simple, cost effective ways help parents returning from maternity/parental leave:
1) Communication – Once every few months make an effort to call the employee on leave to see how they are doing and address any concerns they may have
2) Return to Work Plan – Offer a parent returning from leave the opportunity to work part-time temporarily until they feel ready to take on a full work week
3) Modify job tasks – If an employee has been gone for several months, don’t expect them to remember all of their job duties upon return. Arrange for some re-training or a refresher on job duties and tasks.

As an employee, you should also know your rights as well. Did you know that if wages and benefits for employees in your organization increase during your leave, you’re entitled to the same increase upon your return? Of course on the other hand you could receive a decrease if wages and benefits decreased during your leave.

It is never easy for an employee to return to work after an extended period away. But with proper planning and communication, it is possible to ease their transition and ultimately reduce costs and turnover.


How to Start the New Year Off Right

We have all seen the toll those big company lunches, piles of goodies in the break room, late nights with friends and personal life overload has on employees over the holidays. To compensate many times we see reduced work days, employees cashing out overdue vacation, and taking banked days in lieu; without a doubt productivity lowers and everything seems to wind down into slow motion- many offices are running on a skeleton crew and it seems like everyone is taking part in the Christmas cheers (asides from Finance who is preparing for the impending doom of year end wrap up)…

So how can we prepare ourselves for the rapid ramp up that the New Year brings? Try these few things:

1)      Before leaving for vacation leave yourself a ‘welcome back’ note reminding your refreshed (recently un-hibernated) self of key tasks coming down the pipe.

2)      Tidy up your workspace. It’s always nice to come back to a clean desk that is well organized than a stack of papers and chicken scratch memos you have long forgotten about and can no longer decipher.

3)      Add an extra day to you out of office. This is a sneaky one that allows you pre-manage expectations on you to reply to emails allowing you an extra day to read, flag and prioritize your emails.

4)      Schedule a meeting with your team before you break for the holidays to ensure everyone is on the same page for the New Year. Nothing is worse that having a plan in place that becomes bottlenecked due to a lack of resources.

5)      Set yourself outlook reminders. Do your 2013 version of yourself a favour and schedule your first week back now while everything is weighing on your mind. This reduces stress now, and helps bring back the flow then.

6)      Wake up early and hit the gym. A great way to work back into our early morning routines (and now tight dress pants) is to stay active over the holidays and not stay too much away from our normal sleep patterns.

These tips are ones that have been shared with me, and ones that I put in to practice anytime I step away from work for more than 3 days; it allows me to feel at ease when away from the office but also helps me ramp back up when I return and leaves me feeling prepared and not blindsided.

Happy Holidays and New Year to everyone!