Connection and Flexibility: A Model for Maternity Leave | Goldbeck Recruiting

Connection and Flexibility: A Model for Maternity Leave

STATE OF: Women in the Workforce

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Senior Recruiter Jessica Miles provides insight on navigating maternity leaves for mothers and employers as she returns to the office.

“I miss using my brain, intellectual stimulation, and feeling connected to the marketplace,” says Jessica Miles.1 Our Senior Recruiter is happy to be returning to Golbeck Recruiting after completing her second maternity leave.

As someone who is closely connected to the labour market, as well as being a mother, Jessica is uniquely positioned to provide insight into the intersection of labour and parenthood. She sat down with us to share some thoughts on staying connected, the importance of flexibility, and how employers can help.

Women Handle Majority of Work at Home

Like most women who are returning from maternity leave, Jessica is balancing the needs of her family vs. that of her career. She calls it a huge transition for her family.

“The idea of fitting in a full time job while taking care of two children is mind boggling to me at this point,” she says. “I’ll figure it out, just as other parents do.”

While Jessica acknowledges that men are doing more to care for children and the house than was the case in past eras, she notes that women are still tasked with more than their fair share of the work.

“I’m breastfeeding,” she says. “There’s nobody that can step in and do that.”

Employers Can Support Mothers by Offering Flexibility

Jessica encourages employers to offer flexibility to mothers when they return from maternity leave. She says that allowing them to work from home, especially during the early days of their return, can make a large difference.

“It saves time on the commute and in getting ready for work,” she says.

At the same time, Jessica says that all women are unique and some prefer to return to the office.

“Working from home, some women may see spilled milk on the wall and be compelled to clean it up,” she says. “Some people are unable to compartmentalize, or simply lack the necessary space to work from home.”

Jessica anticipates working a hybrid model, which she says suits her best.

“I want to go into the office for sanity’s sake,” she says. “I’ll also have a greater connection to the downtown core, which is important in my business.”

Staying Connected With Employees Throughout Maternity Leave

“I didn’t die, I just had a baby,” says Jessica.

Social by nature, she has enjoyed staying connected to the Goldbeck team while on leave, including a couple of group lunches.

“It’s a positive,” she says. “It makes the transition easier when you go back to work.”

She advises employers to stay in touch with employees throughout parental  leaves, noting that there are several unique stages that women go through.

“The first three months are called the 90 days of darkness because you just don’t sleep,” she says. “From three to six months, you sleep a bit more, but you’re still tired. Six to eight months is usually a game changer, but you’re still in nap jail. It keeps changing, so it’s important to check in every couple of months.”

Helping Employees Boost the Sales Pipeline

Women in commission-based jobs face a special challenge when returning to work.

“The weird thing about maternity leave is that you might come back to no sales pipeline,” says Jessica.

She says that companies can help by utilizing their communication channels to promote the employee’s return.

“For people in sales jobs where the sales cycle is long, it’s important to be engaged and get the pipeline going,” she says.

Even though she’s on maternity leave, Jessica has been involved in this process.

“It makes sense for me,” she says. “I wouldn’t do this if I was in a salary-based position.”

Preparing to Return: IT, Software, and Market Trends

While some women won’t elect to undertake work-based tasks prior to their return, Jessica has chosen to do so. She’s already met with the IT team to ensure that her computer is up to speed. She’s also familiarized herself with some new software that her team has begun using during her absence. Finally, she’s kept an eye on the job market throughout.

“Employment is everywhere,” she says. “I hear about trends in the news, I go on LinkedIn, and I’ve spoken with friends who are job seeking.”

While women shouldn’t be expected to focus on their careers during their maternity leave, Jessica felt that it was important for her to keep her thumb on the pulse of the job market.

“Recruiters can often get a feel for the marketplace,” she says. “What the newspapers are saying isn’t always the whole story.”

Advice to Pregnant Canadian Women: Take the 12 Month Pay Option

Jessica says she’s grateful to live in Canada where women can take up to 18 months away from work, compared to only 12 weeks in the US.

The Government of Canada will provide those on maternity leave with a portion of their salary. Women can elect to take the money over a 12 or 18 month period. Jessica advises the former.

“You get all of the money if you take it in 12 months,” she explains. “If you choose the longer payout, but return to work after 16 months, for example, you’ve left money on the table.”

Social Policies Becoming More Prominent in Recruiting

Jessica says that women are sometimes afraid to ask too many questions about maternity policies during the interview process, for fear of getting passed over. Nonetheless, she notes that candidates are increasingly asking for details before committing to an employer.

“I’m blown away by the younger generation,” she says. “I’ve had candidates ask me questions about social issues, environmental policies, and so on.”

She advises companies to carefully consider and communicate these policies if they hope to attract talent, particularly in a candidate-driven market.

“It makes a real difference,” she says. 

Happy to Return to Work

Like many mothers before her, Jessica will experience mixed emotions when returning to the workplace. While she acknowledges that it will be tough, she looks forward to returning to her career.

“I’m happy to get back to work, adult conversations, and making money!” she says.

Cited Sources

1 Direct Communication with Jessica Miles