Attitudes to maternity leave can have an enormous affect on return to work success, new research has found.
Dublin City University (DCU) Business School discovered that how a mother’s time away is viewed by a line manager and the company as a whole is critical in determining their return success.
Businesses that view maternity leave as a brief interlude in a woman’s career rather than a major disruption are more likely to retain high-performing mothers.
The research of 300 women, which was the first of its kind in the UK to focus on perspectives surrounding motherhood at work, found that a lack of communication between managers, unconscious bias and career derailment were all concerns for returning mums.
67 per cent felt ‘enthusiastic’ while on maternity leave, but only 40 per cent continued to feel this way after their first day back.
Elsewhere, 35 per cent felt ‘inspired’ while on leave, but this fell to 27 per cent upon their return to their day job.
Yseult Freeney, associate professor in organisational psychology at DCU and co-author of the report, said: “Very often [women’s experiences] depended on the sorts of conversations line managers were having once they were back,” reports HR Magazine.
“A lot of employers were terrified of saying the wrong thing to new parents. Which meant the problem was worsened through a lack of conversation.”
During the study, several women revealed that they had been subjected to assumptions about their return to work, with companies bringing up issues around availability and a change in priorities.