No matter how loud and clear we talk about gender equality, one thing that the almighty has not given us the freedom and will to change is delivering a baby. This still remains with the women and she remains the only source, out of the two partners, to bring life in the world. (No, I’m not complaining, I feel dignified to have been bestowed with this ability).
So what happens when a female professional goes on a maternity period? The onlookers maybe can only imagine what she must be going through. But its only her who can feel the emotional & physical changes-all good and bad experiences. It doesn’t really matter if she has already experienced her first child or not, there are some changes ought to take place every time she delivers, thanks to hormonal imbalances and circumstances around her.
What Organizations can do in order to help this transition easier for women, going on a break as long as 3 months or so and then coming back to the grind after such a long break? There are several basics that we need to keep in mind while dealing with new mums on the block, to begin with :
- Before she is about to proceed on her maternity leave, ensure she is not pressurized to finish all her tasks and the handover. She’ll be anyway in the anxious mode of getting closer to having her heart walk out of her body so help her chalking out a transition plan with her make-shift-take-over colleague. This will help her relax and not worry about the work that she is going to leave behind and the organization will also not have to be impaired in her absence.
- Don’t let her cut out. Stay connected with her via phone and/or visits while she is at home. Don’t let her get lost in that ‘stay away’ period. Lot of times the emotional changes make your priorities change and majority of the times it is temporary. There are females who have taken decisions of quitting their jobs in this period, which most of the times have turned out to be a purely emotional decision in haste. Later, they regret having kicked a job which presented them their sanity! On the other hand, there are females who look for the maternity period to be over sooner, not that those are any less motherly but let’s just say those are simply wired like that only! In any case, completely cutting out can have a wrong impression on her which may affect her decisions big time. That said, don’t over do it by constantly calling her, remember she’s on maternity leave to nurse and nurture her child and recover from her latest birth! (yes,delivering a child is like a new birth for the woman herself)
- Many a times females would want (have) to extend their maternity leaves. Don’t renounce out rightly, consider this option and work it out. In fact HR and her reporting manager/s can (should) work this option in advance and keep the gratifying solutions ready, just in case!
- Once the time comes for her to recommence work,have options of working half time from office and rest from home as need be. This will provide her a cushion to work out her new routine and settle down agilely with ease and will let her bounce back to the role and performance.
- Have facilities like DayCare at the workplace. Nothing beats this feature, which is like a divine sanction for new mums.Being able to bring the baby at work will have her undivided attention on work since she is aware she can take small breaks to see her child, nurse it and not feel guilty about anything at all.
If Organizations keep such options ready and define policies which are reciprocally friendly, there will be less of attrition in terms of new mums. This is a very effective retention tool which should be certainly considered.
All she needs is consideration and secondment that she is the same performer who scored high before going on her long breaks. Many organizations are coming up with such bills and there is a way to look forward to have happy new mums at the organizations, happy guilt free mums, resulting into developed and growing Organizations!
I participated in a very interesting chat conducted by & with today on Twitter. The topic being “women at work”. This one is very close to my heart, of course for the part that I’m a working woman myself and have been exercising the tight-rope-walking drill etc. and for the fact that this topic is vast, spread up and is debatable in every which way.
Now why vast, we all know.Debatable? Yes debatable in the sense of all the angles : Men at work, Women’s expectations from self, Expectations from women by the society, women not at work etc. You get the drift?
I’m jotting down my two cents here on the very-much-talked-about-and-never-ever ended-discussion, women at work aka work life balance of working women!
- First and foremost, women should stop expecting from themselves to become a super human. We are simple human beings like men,period. The more we stretch the glass ceiling of expectations of our roles in our personal and professional lives, the more we tend to stand at the crossroads of making the right choice. Most of the things in life come in simple format, we tend to mess a little with them and then sit and blame them to be complicated. That said, not everything is sorted out already or not everyone has a fairy tale life. But that’s the whole point here, everyone’s life is different and so our ropes ought to be different and hence our expectations from ourselves should be bare minimum. Applying that age old concept of ‘aim for 90% so that you’ll at least score 60%’ is not to be applied here, please!
- Know your potential. This, in terms of professional life first. Do what you are able to do and excel at that, excel according to your standards and not generic ones! Know your potential of being capable of handling things and how many at one time. Just do that much. Don’t try to exceed your potential, really why would you want to do that? If you’ve enough time AND energy left on your hand, please do some good to yourself like getting pampered at a spa, or buying yourself stuff or picking up a good book and get yourself launched in a bean bag and sip your poison and relax! Or simple: just do nothing! Trust me doing nothing is a huge task and not of everyone’s capacity, I’m telling you.
- Live your life. A must to learn,seriously. Why do we work? To support the family, to realize our dreams, to make use of our knowledge and education, to stay sane (that one is so me!), to be in the know etc. etc. etc. Amidst all this, we tend to forget to live our lives.How? Because we being the women, we think we are the only one’s to take care of the house as well. This actually is the fact even today when many men are supportive of the fact that family is of both, house chores are to be taken care by both-equally! And we totally are to be blamed for this. Not. This is our society and conditioning which we need to overcome. After all charity begins at home and so does change! Learn to delegate, it is okay to let people take up your responsibilities, take time to see children smile, catch butterflies(okay this is a little bookish since butterflies are scarce), watch movies, go out with girl friends, sit back and watch your husband take the lead. All this for good and with good intentions.
- The very fact that we are talking about women at work and the balance etc, points at our societal DNA. We are so strongly wired, no make that twisted on this concept that it is going to take a little while to iron out the creases, come out clean.That said, it has begun. The movement has begun and results are visible, however watermark-y they are but they are there and we have to keep going ahead!
- Organizations too need to step into this.It is important that we need to realize that any movement or change has to be partnered and pursued in unison. One can’t do it all alone, for the very reason like I mentioned above-we are human beings not super humans. So one piece of this pan pizza is organizations. They have a strong part to play here. They have to be supportive of their men at work too so that their (men’s) women can balance their “tight rope walk”. Flexi hours for men-women both, day care facility at work, bring your kids at work etc. are few bricks that are being laid in the foundation of a gender neutral work culture where in opportunities are given to men and women both to climb the ladder and women are not questioned “how would you take up that CEO’s role, it means travel.Who will take care of your personal responsibilities?” etc.
- Set your priorities right.For this know your priorities. Know what is really really important for you and not what looks important for you.Once this is achieved, I’m sure the time management automatically sets in right. If you know what is unimportant, you’ll certainly not allocate time to those things/activities.And this is true for men too, why only women. Anyone, who has loads to do in life will appreciate the fact that having that tact of sorting out important and unimportant is a boon.
- Never cross boundaries.Boundaries set for each task and preference in your life. If you spill over that’s where the mess takes place. Set time for things and stick to it. You’ll see you’ll be happier lot if you stop spilling over and/or procrastinating.
- Give yourself credit for doing so much already instead of blaming yourself for not doing so much else.
All the above is something that we have to do / should do in life to feel good. But there are circumstances and people in our lives, sometimes which are not avoidable, and hence to be dealt with any which way. Good people are very important in everyone’s life and play an important role in what you decide and choose for. If one lacks such support there is a problem, I agree but every thing has a way out and there is no dead end, I believe.
So women at work need to be brought down, as in, like we don’t discuss men at work we need to reach that stage where we are not discussing this topic. That would be the day we are truly speaking of equality. And other factors need to gel well in this initiative for sure but the change shall start from us, within us! So women, chin up and head high 🙂
#HappyWorking #HappyLiving #HappyParenting
*This hashtag was used in the chat, storify of which can be viewed on twitter by clicking here