Family leave has been in the national spotlight lately. It’s not clear if national policies will change, but one certainty is that those planning time off will return to the office eventually. To ease that transition, BKD LLP developed a company-wide parental leave program called Growing Together that goes beyond income replacement to offer employees the support they need to navigate the transition.
“The most critical component for us is to be able to have that strong dialogue with the individual who is preparing to be on leave, while they’re on leave and then as they try to think about how they’re going to integrate [back] in,” Director of Human Resources Julie Cummings says. She shares some of the strategies BKD’s employees use to make the transition practically painless.
Develop a plan.
Once employees share the big news, managers and Growing Together program sponsors begin to talk about what that will mean going forward, Cummings says. Decide when and how you might return and, with your supervisor’s help, who will cover for you.
Advocate for your needs.
“Allow yourself to have a conversation with your employer about what your needs are and how your life is transitioning,” Cummings says. No matter your needs—a private space to pump, a training refresher or a change in your return date—involve your boss.
“Once [employees] return to work, there’s also a juncture of ‘OK, you’ve been back at work a week; so how’s it going?’” Cummings says. “‘Are you transitioning OK or do we need to rethink the transition?’” Changes can happen, she says, so revisit your plan and make sure it’s still working for you.