How to retain new mothers in the workforce? India Inc bosses feel flexibility, supportive environment can make a difference

Many new mothers have been the victim of the motherhood penalty. Many feeling the three-year-long pandemic squeeze, mothers from around the world have been the most affected by Covid- 19.

According to statistics released by International Labour Organization in March 2022, more than two million moms left the labor force in 2020. Added household responsibilities and child care, most new mothers end up taking an extended career break beyond their paid maternity leave.

Encouraging new mothers to return to the workforce needs new policies and a lot of support from managers and organisations.

‘Be More Flexible’

CashKaro and EarnKaro co-founder Swati Bhargava says parental leave is one of the most important steps that companies can take to support new mothers. She says that providing resources and support such as lactation rooms, nursing breaks, and access to childcare resources can come in handy.

<p>Swati Bhargava</p>

“Offering flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting, part-time work or job-sharing will help new mothers feel welcome. Companies should also be mindful of the workload and ensure that new moms are not overloaded with work,” she says.

‘Make Them Feel Valued’

Co-founders and sisters of homegrown saree brand Suta, Sujata and Taniya, feel every woman employee who has decided to embrace motherhood must be made to feel valued and included even before they go on their maternity leave.

“The management can step in to discuss with them their growth prospects and career trajectory with the organisation before they leave for their maternity break. This gives them a feeling of belongingness and helps them to overcome the anxiety they might experience being left behind or missing out on opportunities,” the sister-duo shares.

<p>Sujata (left) and Taniya (right)</p>


Once they resume work, the Suta sisters urge managers to start them off with smaller chunks of work, and gradually increase the workload. “The organization can also look into having a tie-up with a crèche and a nursing room on the premises, for emergencies,” they add.

‘Focus On Well-Being’

Rahul Sharma, CEO of Vedanta Aluminium, says that the well-being of employees and their professional growth should be the top priority for any company. He says new mothers should be eased into their work after they return from their six-month-long maternity leave.

<p>Rahul Sharma</p>

“To make the process seamless for them, companies must provide a robust induction on organisational changes/developments in their period of absence and make them undergo safety training again for their well- being before they can take charge of responsibilities from the team member substituting on their behalf,” he says.

‘Make Them Feel Happy’

To ensure inclusivity, it’s crucial that everyone feels happy and supported, says Jyotsna Uttamchandani, Executive Director of Syska Group.

<p>Jyotsna Uttamchandani</p>

Special workforce policies can be implemented to support new mothers, such as offering affordable childcare options and flexible working hours. “Additionally, organising upskilling programs is another way to show support. These measures can create an environment where all employees feel valued and included,” she shares.

‘Build A Better Environment’

Supriya Paul, Co-Founder of content and upskilling platform Josh Talks, says that organisations must find roles for new mothers that not only align with their career goals but also with their goals at home.

“To build a better environment for mothers returning to work, leaders can help foster a sense of community and belonging organisation-wide,” she says.

<p>Supriya Paul</p>

It is important to give all a chance to voice themselves clearly – many new mothers bring unique skills like improved communication, multitasking, and remaining calm under tough situations, that other leaders may lack. When new mothers feel supported in the environment they are in, they tend to stick around longer.

“If the mom-to-be is just going on maternity leave, it can be helpful to establish a plan to reintegrate them into the role, before their leave. This way, they’re more equipped with the information they need to make themselves more comfortable when they’re back at work,” she concludes.

Bringing back new mothers to the force is just a collaborative effort away. The organisation and colleagues together can create a welcoming environment that will help in the long run.

Source: GWFM Research & Study

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