Why a positive maternity leave handover matters

The importance of supporting and facilitating a pregnant employee’s handover cannot be underestimated.

In fact, I’d say Handover is one of the most important sessions of the Confidence to Return Parental Programme.

Why? Because you don’t want your employee to leave exhausted and on a bad note, or worse a baby arriving early because of stress, which is something I have seen happen.

So, it’s important for bosses to structure the leaver’s last week in the office. Delegation should begin early, rather than late.

Maybe there’s some procrastination going on. Subconsciously, the boss doesn’t want them to leave because they can’t imagine how it’s going to work without them.

One new mother told me she felt her employer was getting the ‘last ounce of flesh’ out of her before she left!

Well, that bump says it IS going to happen and that employee will be away on maternity leave very soon.

With my support, your mum-to-be’s last experience of work can be positive. Together, we can manage the transition.

Overwhelming ‘to do’ list
Mums-to-be have a lot on their minds: finishing work, getting organised for the baby’s arrival, and emotional worries about giving birth.

And what I’m seeing more and more in London is the need to guarantee childcare. Expectant families need to find, view and book a place before the baby has even arrived.

I’ve noticed a pattern among the many employees I coach through the Confidence to Return Parental Programme.

Each employee is driven, ambitious and wants to leave an excellent lasting impression when they go on maternity leave. They want to give full notes to colleagues who will be covering their role, so everything stays in perfect order for their clients.

This pattern sees them working hard until the final day. Gone is the old idea of ‘slowing down’ or having an extended lunch break to celebrate with colleagues. Opening presents and eating cake has been swopped for urgently getting everything in ‘perfect order’.

Danger of disorganisation
Increasingly, I see bosses who are not organised enough. They have no idea who will handle the clients and cases, and this becomes the leaver’s problem. So the leavers get more stressed, panicked and overwhelmed as they approach their last day, which can have an adverse effect on mum-to-be and baby.

And she will have a dreadful, disorganised last week, which is not a good lasting memory to have of the firm.

Power of a thoughtful handover
In HR, you’ve got a vital role. You can gee up bosses and persuade them of the value and importance of a successful handover.

Most importantly, you can ask mums-to-be if they are feeling overwhelmed and if they need help.

Making this effort, with the boss and the mum-to-be will yield positive results for the business. It should see her depart on maternity leave:

  • with a positive mindset about the firm and colleagues
  • feeling supported and important, because her well-being has been made a priority
  • not worrying about how clients will be dealt with – will some be lost if they are not treated in the meticulous manner she uses
  • not worrying about what she’ll return to
  • looking forward to returning, rather than planning not to come back.

Chance to vent and plan
I use Handover sessions to help leavers compartmentalise everything they need to do. I encourage them to break tasks down in order of importance and to structure their communications, with me there as their sounding board.

I also give them handouts to enable them to do this after our session, so they can continue to build structure until they leave.

Importantly, I ask them detailed questions around their feelings of leaving and the future.

Often mums-to-be tell me how the stress goes away when they have the chance to vent and put things in perspective.

Protect your future
As I said, this could be one of the most important sessions of the whole programme.

Handover sets up the future. It reminds us how we tend to remember negative experiences when we look back — and what we all need to do to build positive memories of the last week of work before the new adventure of maternity leave starts.

As an employer, you can’t afford to lose a valuable employee or take the shine off her return.

Why consider Parental Programme
In addition to the successful handover, our Parental Programmes can include:

  • managing guilt
  • fears and expectations
  • confidence and Mindfulness
  • countdown to return
  • integrating work and parenting
  • maintaining career momentum
  • time management.

Long-term benefits of Parental Programme

  • builds employee commitment
  • retains valuable and experienced employees
  • builds a supportive community in the workplace
  • enhances your reputation as an employer of choice.

All Confidence to Return programmes are:

  • flexible and tailor-made to match your business needs
  • delivered as one-to-one sessions or group workshops


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