Janice HaddonAs my regular readers know, I have been on maternity leave since January and am now slowly easing back into work. Janice Haddon is a coach and management consultant who specializes in helping people return successfully to work. Here’s what Janice Haddon had to say about returning work after a long absence.
Janice, why is it so difficult for business people to return to work after such a long absence as maternity leave?
It can be difficult to adjust to being absent for long periods of time from your workplace. People have different experiences when they are away from work. The workplace changes as a result. People leave, new colleagues start, processes change, and clients and customers become different. One thing we can be certain of is that there is no one constant.
Things will have changed and this will affect our knowledge and, therefore, our feelings of competence. It will also impact what we feel we can accomplish when we return to work. People assume that if we have been working in a certain place for a long period, and then return after a period of absence from work, we know what to do. We don’t like asking for help because we fear being judged or feeling stupid.
Ah, that sounds almost like Imposter Syndrome. What can women do to make the transition to work easier?
This is possible only if you understand how to live a happy and balanced life. This is possible by ensuring that our Essential Needs(c), are met. These are our Essential Needs
Feeling in control
Connection to others
Feeling competent and capable of achieving your goals in every day
Mental stretch and creativity, status – ie recognition of what you contribute, privacy and downtime.
Most people find their Essential Needs met at work. Although there are other factors that can influence this, the amount of time spent at work has a direct impact on our satisfaction and how our Essential Needs get met. If more than two or three Essential Needs are dissatisfied, it can lead to feeling unhappy and even depression.
Your Essential Needs may be affected if you are on maternity leave. You won’t have the same level or connection with your colleagues as you will not be in daily contact with them. You won’t get mental stretch, competence, achievement, status or recognition. Let’s face the facts, maternity leave is not something you can control. You are a small person who is in control.
Yes, it is true! What advice do you have for those who are unable to keep in touch with their work while they are away?
Keep in touch, but don’t let it get you down! Close colleagues and employers who are responsible will keep you informed about what’s happening while you’re away. They will try to find the right balance so you don’t get overwhelmed with information. They will do everything they can to support you and not overwhelm you. Talk to them! Before you take maternity leave, be clear about how much and how often you want information. If you are on sick leave, outline what you would prefer.
Your individual needs will differ depending on your situation. Employers will do what is right, so help them to understand your needs.
What’s your top tip to deal with the possibility that your workplace has changed since you were gone?
Nothing is the same. It’s okay to be anxious about it. Accept change and learn new things while you are away. Establish a strong working relationship with your colleagues to support you when you return to work.
Take a moment to reflect on what you are doing when you return to work.