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What are your returners saying?

What are your returners saying?

Can you remember what you were doing back in March 2018? It feels like two minutes ago and a hundred years ago all at the same time for me! I was in the early stages of setting up Power of the Parent®. Figuring out how to support returners after my own dodgy experiences was in full swing.

If someone had asked me what it was like to be a returner I’d have been able to share a heady mix of pits and peaks. It wasn’t all rough, but the low points were pretty rubbish.

Six years on…

This topic (and the business) has grown arms, legs and several heads – and hopefully generated lots of conversations and actions. The original product I launched with was (what would eventually become called) Strong Returns®. And my goodness have we been on a journey with it ever since. The process has changed, the content has shifted and the creation of the Strong Returns Hub® for clients – a one stop home for all the materials attendees need to access. 

This year, the content is staying pretty stable with a few little tweaks. However, there’s also a new kid on the block. A new format that helps those organisations that need to serve a bigger audience in one go. If you’re here for the tips you’ll want to skip past this next bit and pick it up below the next image.

‘An introduction to Strong Returns®’ is about bringing together a shared group of parents and line managers. And people representing a parental support network (if you have one). It’s 90 minutes of blending strategy with practical suggestions, driving connection and conversation. Myth busting is a big part of what we do, alongside designing re-induction plans, how to use strengths based development as a re-engagement tool, practical things parents might want to have in place when they return and the common sense conversations line managers can be initiating. We’ll also talk about inclusive talent management and how to have comfortable conversations about boundaries. If this is something you’re interested in for your organisation, you can book a call here.

What are you empowered to do?

Perhaps you’re not in a position to bring Power of the Parent® in right now but you know you need to do something for returners – don’t worry, we’ve still got some suggestions. Here are three things to consider to get some positive action going…

1. Who are you supporting?

If you’re talking about supporting maternity returners, you’re not on your own. However, we need to expand the conversation here. Creating an inclusive approach will include talking to parents who are returning from adoption leave, surrogacy leave, paternity, equal or shared parental leave.  This is a nod to strategy as well as culture change.

2. Phased returns as standard

This has been a talking point for lots of our clients – both individuals and from a corporate perspective. Blending family life and the paid work environment can be intense. Whether we’re on return number one or number five, it’s different every time.

Phased returns can be a great way to help someone reconnect with the workplace. It can drive engagement and not have to take a hit on salary. In the long term you’re more likely to be able to retain someone if they’re supported and save yourself some cold hard cash.

3. Talk about strengths

Ok, I could go on about this one allllll day. But I can’t, so I’ll keep this simple for now. Helping someone connect with what energises them, what they love doing and what they’re great at will drive their engagement and overall performance up.

We fully appreciate you can’t always design jobs around people. However, getting clear on when someone is at their best will benefit everybody. At a time in our lives that are notorious for parents uttering that they’ve ‘lost their identity’ and can’t quite remember what they’re any good at, you could be the person that changes that for them (and helps you retain valuable talent).

4. Understand support setups

This is all about removing assumptions! There are SO many different family set ups and we can jump to conclusions quicker than you can say grandparents.

Having a basic understanding of the support networks your brilliant team members have around them can be helpful for all concerned. Personally speaking, we have no immediate family close by so things like covering illness or training days pretty much falls 100% to me and my husband.

For some of my friends who are solo, single and co-parents there is no one else to help or it means a tricky negotiation with the other parent. If it feels uncomfortable to raise this kind of conversation, don’t worry, you’re human and that’s understandable.

You could try something like ‘do you want to let me know a rough idea of who you have around you, so I don’t make any assumptions?’ and then take a step back and let the returner explain their set up in their own time and way. 

There are so many things we can share on this topic – but for now, we’ll leave it here!

If you’re looking for new ways or fresh approaches when it comes to supporting returners or parents in the workplace more broadly, you can book a call here to chat about your specifics.

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