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14 June 2024

How to Support Pregnant Employees and New Parents: Essential Tips for a Thriving Workplace

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Posted by: HRi

Picture this: you have just found out you are expecting a child. Excitement quickly blends with anxiety as questions flood your mind. When should you inform your employer? Will you receive the support you need? How will you balance work with your new family responsibilities?

These concerns are common among the women and new parents I work with. Statistics reveal a troubling reality: in the UK, about 17% of women leave their jobs within five years of childbirth, and there is a significant drop in women holding managerial roles post-maternity leave (Office for National Statistics, WeAreTheCity). This is not just a problem for women and new parents; it is a significant issue for businesses, leading to a substantial loss of talent, increased disruption, and higher costs.

Supporting pregnant women and parents is crucial not just for their well-being, but also for the overall health and success of your organisation. Here are practical steps to create an environment where everyone can thrive.


Why Should Employers Support Pregnant Women and New Parents?

Supporting pregnant women and parents goes beyond legal compliance; it is essential for fostering an inclusive, diverse, and productive work environment. When companies prioritise the well-being of these employees, they recognise the significant contributions parents make both at work and at home. This support can improve mental and physical health, job satisfaction, and overall morale. A supportive environment reduces stress and anxiety, enabling employees to be more focused and engaged at work.


Benefits to Employers

Boosts Employer Brand
Demonstrating a commitment to inclusion strengthens relationships with clients, investors, and customers who value social responsibility and ethical practices.

Retains Great People
Employees who feel supported during critical life events are more likely to remain loyal, reducing turnover costs and retaining valuable institutional knowledge.

Increases Productivity
Supportive policies can decrease absenteeism and increase productivity, as employees are less likely to take unplanned time off if they have formalised support mechanisms in place.

Enhances Morale and Engagement
When employees see their employer genuinely cares about their well-being, they are more motivated and committed to their work, leading to better teamwork and overall performance.

Reduces Costs
Lower turnover, higher productivity, and fewer complex people issues can significantly impact a business’s costs and resources.


Three Simple Ways to Start Supporting Pregnant Women and Parents

In my work with businesses, we collaborate to create environments where expecting and new parents can balance their family and careers without feeling overwhelmed.

Here are three actionable steps to get started.

1. Get Your Policies and Guides in Place, Now

Proactively creating family policies prevents the need for rushed, reactive policy-making when a need arises. This ensures policies are well-considered, comprehensive, and consistent. Clear family policies allow employees to find answers to their questions without disclosing personal plans prematurely, reducing stress and ensuring fair treatment.

2. Train Your Managers

After establishing policies, provide clear guides and training for managers to ensure they feel confident in supporting expecting and new parents. Training helps managers understand the challenges faced by pregnant women and parents and equips them to handle requests and adjustments with sensitivity and discretion. Accessible guides ensure consistent and fair treatment.

3. Create a Return to Work Plan

When a new parent returns to work, their responsibilities and circumstances may have changed significantly. They might be facing physical or emotional challenges. A return to work plan acts as a re-induction, helping them get up to speed quickly and easily.

Before They Return
Send the Flexible Working policy and Return to Work guide, and invite them to a Return to Work chat.

Return to Work Cha
Discuss any concerns, answer questions, and plan their return a few weeks before their return date.

Plan Their First Day
Arrange who will meet them, ensure their tech is set up, and schedule meetings with key people. If you work remotely, ensure they feel connected with a virtual coffee break.

On Their First Day
Check in on how they are feeling and inform them of any support resources. Go through any business changes and discuss their role, providing necessary training and setting objectives.

Regularly check in and offer support as needed.


Creating a supportive workplace for pregnant women and new parents is not just an ethical choice but a strategic one that benefits both employees and employers.


Lisa Thompson
Author: Lisa Thompson Owner |  Mountain HR
An independent HR, Training, and Coaching Consultancy based in South East London. Creating safe and inclusive workspaces through HR initiatives is my passion, with a particular focus on raising awareness around mental health and supporting women at all stages of their careers.
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