As your people prepare to enter new phase of their lives—parenthood—it is imperative for their employers to provide a sense of security when it comes to temporarily leaving the workforce for parental leave.

A smooth transition away from work for and back to work from maternity leave and paternal leave can make the difference between retaining a motivated employee or seeing them leave due to the conflicting demands of their work lives and family lives. With a parental leave plan, mutually determined and agreed upon by the employer and the new parent, a successful transition process can be made into a guarantee.

From the moment they give their leave notice to their return back to the office, here’s what to consider when creating a parental leave plan for your working mothers and working fathers.

Determine a leave plan

Considering that your employee will be away from work for a substantial amount of time, it will be a great help to sufficiently prepare their team and their colleagues for the impending leave in advance of their departure. In order to account for, streamline, and delegate the work that will need to be covered before, during, and after their leave, all affected co-workers should meet to discuss project handoffs, along with any tasks, responsibilities, and important information that needs to be passed on to team members and to interim maternity or paternity coverage hires. Ensuring that all involved parties are in the loop and part of the parental leave process can ensure that procedures are carried out seamlessly.

Open the lines of communication

When it comes to coming up with a communication plan for your employee’s parental leave, let them take the lead in determining if and how they would like to receive communication during their time away from your company. Should your employee be open to the idea, determine how frequently they would prefer to have check-ins—whether monthly, quarterly, or otherwise—to keep them informed on important company news and updates, so that when they return to work, they won’t have months to catch up on. Of course, you can anticipate that this communication plan may likely change once the employee is in their parental role, but having a plan in place in the meantime helps.

Additionally, employers should consider keeping lines of informal communication between your employee and their work colleague open both during their maternal leave or paternal leave. Ensure that your employees on leave are still included within the company culture through office communications and happenings, whether by sharing baby photos with the team, sending congratulatory cards to the new parents, and extending invitations to company socials and events. These gestures can assist with reassuring the employee on leave that they remain a valued member of the team during their absence, helping to avoid feelings of disconnection and isolation from the organization.

Ease the returning employee back into the workforce

As your employee gets used to balancing their competing roles of working and parenting, help them to lighten the stress and pressures of by providing a supportive workplace culture for working parents. This includes offering policies and benefits to assist your people with managing their workload with child care. As they get used to their new schedule, flexible work arrangements can support them in managing their work-life balance. During their re-entry back into the workforce, training and mentoring by team members to support their return can make a big difference in getting them back up to speed with the changes that occurred during their time away.

With a successfully implemented parental leave plan, you can minimize complications that arise during leave and upon return, which in turn ensures the well-being of the employee during this time of transformation in their professional lives and personal lives.

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