6 ways employers can help new mums get back into work

Welcoming a baby is a huge life change and whilst some mothers look forward to getting back into the swing of things at work, many also feel overwhelmed at the prospect of a return to the office.

One survey found that 20% dreaded going back to work due to a fear that they had forgotten what to do. 23% felt anxious about changes that may have occurred with the company or their role whilst they were away. Other concerns new mums had about returning to work included leaving their child with someone else, juggling childcare and the social implications.

Employers can help alleviate some of these worries and make the return to work easier by focusing on the physical, emotional and financial wellbeing of new mothers in their workforce. Here at companiions, we’ve compiled a useful list of ideas on how to do this.

Promote an empathetic and open company culture

TENA surveyed 1000 new mums to find out how they felt about returning to work and the results highlighted the fears many had about how they would be perceived by management and colleagues.

Nearly one in five believed that their peers did not understand the physical and emotional effects of pregnancy and becoming a new mum. Of these, 14% worried that this meant the medical effects of pregnancy and childbirth, such as incontinence, made them appear unprofessional. In addition, 1 in 7 new mums said they felt patronised by colleagues as they acclimatised to juggling work and parenting. 

Businesses can help break down social stigmas surrounding new mums and make them feel more understood by promoting an empathetic and open company culture. This includes facilitating honest conversations and discussion of concerns. What’s more, companies can provide training to employees and create internal support systems such as a working mothers group or a return to work buddy scheme.

Provide a dedicated pumping space

Many mothers are still feeding their child(ren) with breastmilk upon their return to work yet according to a report by Peninsula, only 22% of UK bosses say that they provide designated breastfeeding spaces.

Providing a dedicated lactation area in the workplace allows new mums to continue their nursing routine without having to make any compromises to their careers.

The space provided should be private, quiet, comfortable, and sanitary. Expecting new mums to pump in the toilets or the staffroom, for example, is not adequate. The area should also include a refrigerator where expressed milk can be stored.

Remember that mothers who are breastfeeding or pumping are also entitled to more breaks during the working day. The times and frequencies of these breaks will need to be agreed upon with the employee.

Embrace flexible working

Employees who have worked for a company continuously for 26 weeks or more have the right to request flexible working. But as an employer, you can lead the way by offering this option for new mothers rather than waiting for them to ask for it.

Flexible working encompasses compressed hours, working from home and flexitime. Such arrangements can be invaluable for new mothers who need to work around available childcare, step away from their desk to settle a baby or look after a poorly child, for example.

Offer them a companiion

Supporting parents in the workplace is important but employers can further help new mums find their perfect work-life balance by giving them access to an extra pair of hands at home too. Enter companiions. We provide on-demand, flexible support for those that need it.

For new mums returning to work, juggling employment, parenting, a home and general life can be difficult, with two-thirds expressing they feel exhausted and a fifth stating the pressure they feel to be a good parent affects their mental health. However, our companiions can help with a huge variety of tasks, making it easier for new mums to focus their attention where it is needed most.

Whilst a companiion can provide childcare if needed, they can also assist with household chores such as tidying, laundry and cleaning. They can help with meal prepping and are even available on an ad-hoc basis for errands such as food shopping, picking up a prescription or popping in to check on an older relative. Find out more about our family-friendly employee benefits programme that can help new mums, and your other employees, today.

Subsidise childcare

In 2022, the average cost for a part-time nursery place (considered to be 25 hours) was £138.70 per week. This means that working mothers can expect to pay more than £7000 per year for childcare, and that’s not even for full-time hours.

For some mothers, this level of expense leaves them in a position where they cannot afford to return to work and face the prospect of pausing or giving up their careers.

Employers can help ensure that mothers can return to their role by supporting parents with the cost of childcare. There are numerous ways to do this, from in-house creches to childcare vouchers. Contributing to the cost of employee childcare also promotes better financial well-being as less of their income is used for this purpose.

Give family-friendly discounts

Being a parent is expensive, with the average cost of raising a child to 18 in the UK sitting at £202,660. This figure includes housing and childcare costs but still equates to around £11,250 a year, or £938 a month. In addition, the overall cost of living is increasing, with food prices in particular, rising at the fastest rate since 1980.

Employers can support new mums returning to work by providing discounts on products and services that help them raise a family. This could be supermarket vouchers, for instance, that enable them to buy healthy groceries and baby essentials such as nappies and wipes. Discounts could also be for such things as parent and toddler classes, transport, days out or even family holidays. 

Want to find out more about how we can help new mums and other employees in your business? Book a companiions demo today and find out more about our employee benefits.