Human resources managers and all upper-level staff should be committed to doing everything within reason to help pregnant employees feel comfortable at work. This makes for a more comfortable workplace overall and decreases the chances of future conflicts and litigation filed on behalf of upset employees. Employers have concerns about making everyone feel welcome and appreciated in addition to doing everything they can to cut down on risk, including the types of risks presented by a lawsuit.
What Makes Employers Hesitant About Addressing Pregnancy Openly
After an employee announces that she is pregnant, the employer may be mindful of doing everything possible to avoid problems. This can, however, make the employee feel more uncomfortable. The employer might be trying to avoid bringing up the pregnancy at all so as not to make the women feel singled out, but this can also make it seem like no one is acknowledging the pregnancy.
The very act of having no plan in place and never talking about it can make the employee feel as though her job is in jeopardy or that she is being discriminated against because of the pregnancy. All employers should be aware of this fallout and should do whatever possible to avoid it.
You Need a Plan for Transition with a Pregnant Employee
When a co-worker or employee in the office becomes pregnant, having guidelines in place and ideas about how to make this person more comfortable are recommended for companies of all sizes. From making the big announcement to co-workers to figuring out how maternity leave is going to work, being pregnant at work can be very difficult and stressful for a working mom to be.
A study recently completed by the care.com found that approximately half of working women today were scared about telling their boss of the news of their pregnancy. Women may be nervous about bringing up their news to their employer and human resources and managers alike can all take steps to help minimize these concerns and make a pregnant woman safe in her working environment.
Supporting working mothers throughout the transition to parenthood, all the way from the news of the pregnancy through maternity leave and coming back from maternity leave can help to establish an appropriate company culture that makes working moms of all types feel comfortable. There are several different ideas that human resources departments and employers can keep in mind as they build a company that has a powerful work culture.
Advertise Benefits Appropriately
Any work-family benefits developed and used by the company should be clearly promoted throughout the physical premises. This can be posted in the bathroom and in the employee break room to help remind employees, including working mothers, about the supports and benefits available for them that are specifically tailored for their unique needs. This makes it easier for them to identify their individual work-family concerns and to take advantage of what you already offer. This can also show that you are taking the interest of all employees seriously by being proactive about implementing programs.
Many employers use what is known as an informal flexibility program, meaning that the direct manager of the employee in question is responsible for providing further information up to a pregnant woman. This can relate to all sorts of issues over the course of the pregnancy, however, such as how a woman needs to request time off from work for necessary prenatal appointments and work from home days permitted after maternity leave.
Employees may be nervous about accepting these benefits, however, because of the stigma about working mothers and their overall commitment to the job. However, formalizing any flexible work arrangements by putting them in the writing can help to minimize problems and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
These subtle measures should not be overlooked. An employer might feel that if something is not as established as a support group that it’s better to avoid doing anything. However, no plans or information available in the workplace is just as bad and leads to confusion about workplace culture.
Any company today must have an idea of how to incorporate family concerns and other issues outside of the office, as at some point these concerns will inevitably have an impact on one employee or another.
Establish A Transition Plan
The transition to maternity leave might look slightly different from one employee to another, but documenting these guidelines in written format and referencing them with new and current employees alike can help to show that you have done your due diligence in putting together a plan that makes everyone feel comfortable and gives employees an opportunity to answer questions. This maternity leave checklist/timeline should include instructions for handing over projects and verify that coverage will be in place during the leave. This helps to reduce stress for the teams taking over the additional responsibilities as well as the working mom-to-be.
Create A Reintegration Plan
Much of the legwork associated with helping a pregnant woman feel comfortable in the workplace has to do with documenting your guidelines for how things may look over the course of the pregnancy and when she returns from work. A reintegration plan should be considered just as important as a transition plan before the departure.
Employers who are leading the way with parent-to-be policies may have the option to work from home one or more days a week or provide connections to new support groups within the workplace. This can help parents re-adjust to being in the office after their leave. This could alleviate an employee’s stress related to the workplace during the course of pregnancy and also make them feel more confident when they are making their way back into the office after time away for maternity leave.
Human resource managers and employers have a responsibility to ensure that they have thought of various options and established clear guidelines and protocols that make it clear to all employees, how things will be handled when a woman becomes pregnant.