A recent study finds that pregnant employees often feel “pushed out” by their employers, and even those who voluntarily leave (“opt out”) often do so based on perceptions of being pushed out. The research disproves the notion that women lose career motivation due to their pregnancies; their motivation levels stay high unless their employers reduce their encouragement and support for their careers.
So what can employers do to show their support and prove they care about female employees’ career growth before, during and after pregnancy?
A research paper by Harvard Business School, “The Caring Company”, advises employers to “adopt a framework for balancing career and life paths” to help employees manage life’s various challenges, including pregnancy. A survey of employees found three major barriers to resuming career paths when returning from caregiving leave:
- Lack of a systematic onboarding process to transition back to work
- No access to mentors who provide coaching on how to advance after a leave of absence
- Lack of support by boss/ co-workers for balancing work demands and on-going caregiving responsibilities
It is a given that employees will require leaves for pregnancy and other caregiving duties, so employers will be well served to develop supportive policies to address these barriers. As well, communicate them to employees to build confidence and comfort that they enjoy a caring company! Two other surveys offer tips to create a pregnant-friendly workplace.
Fortune magazine’s “Best Places for Women” survey identifies these best practices:
- Phase-back programs that helps employees gradually return to full-time work
- Paid parental leave
- Flexible scheduling and work practices
- “On and Off” career ladders
- Resource/ employee support groups
- Job sharing
- Genuine Leadership and Management support
Working Mother magazine offers ideas to reduce stress on pregnant employees:
- Provide enough flexibility for the employee
- Promote your family-work benefits in the right manner
- Set up rooms for them which are comfortable in every way
- Incorporate a family-friendly and holistic culture
Employers with a caring culture for pregnant employees and other employees with caregiving responsibilities, enjoy higher levels of engagement, retention and overall financial performance. For help with your practices, contact Employers Council today.