Juggling Family and Career: Facing the Return to Work

Cogs delve into the world of work awaiting mums today and shares support for those who are considering taking the leap:

Anyone who has a career break faces obstacles when returning to work, whether it be adapting to changing technology, structural business changes or unsociable working hours;

but add to that the additional worries of a new parent leaving their child for the first time –  and the thought of returning to work can be insurmountable.

However millions of women across the globe are getting back into work – almost three-quarters of mothers with dependent children are now in full/part-time work according to the Office for National Statistics, proving a dramatic shift in the landscape of modern motherhood.  Progress is continuing to be made from flexible working and shared parental leave to extensive training and support.

In this 2 part series Cogs delve into the world of work awaiting mums today and shares some support for those who are considering taking the leap:

Getting your mojo back

Surveys for workingmums.co.uk have found that confidence is one of the top three barriers to returning to work,  availability of flexible work and childcare difficulties. It is no surprise that a mix of loss of identity, being self-critical and changes in personal priorities can cause a lack of confidence and can be so severe that is actually prevents women from feeling they can return to their job,

Cogs spoke to Helen Packham on this topic, she is a leadership and business coach, helping leaders to use their strengths to dream big and make an impact. Helen completely lost her confidence after having children but was able to achieve things she never thought possible in her career by taking steps to reconnect with who she was.

She believes confidence isn’t something you lose or gain but is always inside you. She has given a TEDx talk on the subject 

My biggest piece of advice for Mums returning to with would be…

  1. Reconnect with you – You are still in there even though you are now a Mum! That means that the skills and experience you have gained over the years hasn’t left you. Checking back in with your values, strengths and needs will Enable you to take back on the world of work from a much more confident standpoint.
  2. Seek support – it’s going to take time to get your head back in the game, particularly now you are juggling being a parent and doing a job. So get all the support you can at work by having frequent open and honest conversations with your boss and reestablishing your network within the organisation. Building relationships are the best way to feel supported and just know you aren’t alone or an alien returning from another planet!

Sharing the load

Despite changes in the law regarding Shared Parental Leave, the uptake of new fathers taking up shared parental leave remains low. It seems a change in workplace culture and perception is still needed to happen in order for families and businesses to reap the benefits.

If it is something you and your partner have never considered, why not? It is always worth discussing the pros and cons of such a setup and considering all options. It should not always be assumed that it will be the mother who will take the full parental leave.

If shared parental leave does become popular in the future it will pave the way for a new generation of working mums and will change the landscape of work-life balance for families. As mums return to work sooner (in transition with the fathers) it would be assumed they would be able to pick up their role where they left off and dispel any of the negative connotations linked with a longer career break.

If you don’t ask, you won’t get

It seems an obvious point, but if you have been on maternity/ extended leave, communicating with your employer is vital for ensuring a successful return to work and work-life balance. Create a written plan of what you would like your role/ hours to look like and build a case for why this will benefit you and the business.

Every employer is different, every role comes with different responsibilities, but never be afraid to ask and broach the subject with your boss or HR lead. There might be an opportunity for changing the role, internal movement or job shares – as well as flexible or part-time working. If you are wondering how to ask for flexible working; there are now lots of support out there on how to approach it with your boss.

Getting job-ready

Founded in 2014 by Nikki Cochrane and Kathryn Tyler, Digital Mums is an online training company, specialising in getting women job-ready with in-demand digital skills, so they can find rewarding roles that sync with family life. To date, Digital Mums has trained over 1,800 women with 4 in 5 going onto finding rewarding, flexible work.

If you are ready to return to work but feel you are lacking the skill set needed in today’s competitive industries why not explore ways to upskill. Founded in 2014 by Nikki Cochrane and Kathryn Tyler, Digital Mums is an online training company, specialising in getting women job-ready with in-demand digital skills, so they can find rewarding roles that sync with family life. To date, Digital Mums has trained over 1,800 women with 4 in 5 going onto finding rewarding, flexible work.

Digital Mums currently offers vocational training in social media management in the form of its Social Media Marketing: Associate Programme, designed specifically for women with a marketing or comms background. Although training is delivered 100% online, the whole ethos behind Digital Mums’ training is to get you job-ready. This is the reason they place a huge emphasis on what they call REAL learning. REAL learning means putting their 350+ hours of learning into practice on a real-life business, who you will be matched with during your six months of training – a kind of digital apprenticeship. This means on graduation, students already have a client behind them and are much more confident and able to put their learning immediately into practice in the real world.

Digital Mums have also recently launched a non-vocational training course called the Digital Retox. This is for women from any background and is perfect for both career-breakers and those in work as it’s spread over seven weeks and only requires a time commitment of three hours per week. The Digital Retox is designed to build up skills in new digital workplace technologies such as Slack, Trello and Touchcast and introduce you to in-demand skills like how to improve business performance through data and how to increase business productivity and communication. You’ll also uncover what type of ‘learner’ you are and receive tricks, tips, and tools to integrate learning into your everyday life to make sure you’re evolving in tune with the modern workplace. On top of this, Digital Mums will show you how to create a killer online personal brand – who doesn’t need help with that?!

Cogs have more than a decade of experience helping people find their ideal job. Whether it’s getting in at the ground floor of a start-up or reaching the top tier of a global brand – career break or not, there is no reason we can’t help you to get there. And if you’re not quite sure what it is you want to do, don’t worry: an open mind might just be your greatest asset. Our global client base is a mix of creative agencies, consulting firms, and technology, financial services, media and retail companies – giving us more scope to find the right opportunity for you.

Don’t miss our follow in the instalment of Juggling Family and Career next week where we look at the challenges faced once you are back in the world of work!

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