How to help mothers return to work – and retain the talent in your business

October 31, 2017

Retaining your best staff and attracting quality candidates is a major issue for most businesses.


A recent poll of over 3,000 senior HR professionals found that businesses are more concerned about retaining and developing staff than they are of the potential impact of Brexit. Which is why encouraging women back to work after maternity leave and being able to offer flexible working options and support services is becoming an important way to retain talent within an organization.

Mothers returning to work need different support to other employees. So, here are the six changes I suggest:


1. Support Schemes

Introduce a buddy scheme in the workplace offering support for parents by parents. When working parents need advice or motivation, they turn to the real experts; their colleagues, working parents, people they trust.

 Organisations like BuddyWith can help you set up and facilitate the process of peer to peer matching, running a support networks and providing access to resources working parents in your organisation may need.


2. Flexibility

Working parents need flexibility; for example, remote or flexible work arrangements, job-sharing, staggered hours etc.  Many returning women often have to combine work with ongoing caring commitments, which can only be achieved if they are offered flexible working arrangements.

However according to a PwC report the opportunities are constrained by the lack of flexible or part-time roles available for higher-skilled jobs.


3. Mindfulness

Set-up regular sessions on mindfulness and encourage working parents to develop ways to stay calm and avoid feeling overwhelmed, especially when parenthood gets really hard. It is something parents can practice a few minutes each day at home, at work or during their commute – and it will make a huge difference.

There are several benefits to mindfulness, Laura Callisen from Working Mothers says becoming more mindful improves your ability to concentrate, it also helps you to approach things with more acceptance and objectivity, which will help to decrease stress levels.


4. Good Employer Charter

Apply to be part of the Good Employer Charter (now available in most boroughs). A big part of this is about diversity, inequality and offering flexible work arrangements. Recently the Mayor of London called on all employers to sign up to his Healthy Workplace Charter, which provides businesses with a range of tools to support staff health and wellbeing.


5. Staff Management

The world of work is changing; how we do it, where we do it, and the way we do it.  98% of working parents say they’ve experienced burnout. And 63% of parents who are managers are worried about the impact their working hours have on relationships with their children.

Companies should adopt new approaches and offer advice and support to their working parents. There is lots of help available, for example, provides access to resources to help organisations support their working parents.

Some of the larger companies think that providing more leave is the key to retaining the talent, especially for working parents, but to retain talent today, employers are going to have to do more than just offer a few extra days off.


6. Communication

Be considerate when sending communication, use headers reflecting urgency, e.g. ‘Not urgent’; ‘For Monday’; ‘FYI Only’; ‘Urgent!’. This simple technique can help working parents get through what needs to be done and prioritise their workload accordingly.

Finally, be sure to advertise the resources already in place. Very often employees don’t know what exists or how to access resources available to them.

By helping parents return to work you can both attract and retain experienced, talented staff – which will have a direct impact on your bottom line.



Yuliana TopazlyYuliana Topazly is founder of – a supportive community of parents and experts who are there to help each other, offer advice, and share experiences. See:


Twitter: @BuddyWithMum



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