9-day fortnight aids successful return from maternity

Embracing the flexible 9-day-fortnight pays off for everyone, a chat with a recent Confidence to Return coachee has shown me.

Kelly Goodbody is senior vice president in financial advisory services for AlixPartners, a global consultancy firm. She had been with the firm for 2 and a half years when she became pregnant with her first child.

Like many women in senior roles, she was worried about how she could juggle the demands of childcare with the nature of her work.

AlixPartners asked Confidence to Return to coach Kelly during her maternity leave, and after her return to work, demonstrating its commitment to attract, retain and develop women employees.

Kelly says having 1-on-1 sessions to discuss her concerns about returning to work was invaluable. It helped her build her confidence. And it also helped her tailor a 9-day fortnight, which works for her and her family.

How it works

Both she and her husband take 2 days off a month, on alternate fortnights, so each can spend a full day with their daughter every other week. They both get extra time with their lovely daughter and see a cut in their child-care costs.

Let Kelly explain:

 ‘A colleague of my husband’s told us about this arrangement. It’s not an idea I had heard about previously but seemed to be the perfect solution, which had a number of benefits for us as a family.’

Continue career development

‘I was keen to go back to work full time but also wanted to have some time with my daughter. The 9-day fortnight seemed like the ideal solution for our family situation, allowing my husband and I to share the childcare equally.

‘For me it meant that I would be able to continue developing my career and remain involved in exciting and challenging work but still get to spend time with my daughter.’

Progressive employers

‘Our firms were both incredibly supportive of this solution. We are both very lucky to work at such progressive firms who are keen to encourage work/life balance.’

Positive outcome

‘For me, it has meant that it works out at only 2 days a month out of the office, so allows me to manage my workload while also getting to enjoy quality time with my daughter.’

Benefits for her daughter

‘It has been a great solution for my daughter too. She is in child-care for 4 days a week and then gets to spend one Friday with her mum and one Friday with her dad which I think gives her quite a different experience each week.’

Reason for recommendation

‘I would definitely recommend this solution if it suits other working parents. It was a great way for me to transition back into the workplace from maternity leave. Some weeks I am full time so able to get stuck back into my career and the weeks when I only do 4 days, I get the opportunity to spend quality time with my daughter.’

Employer benefit

So, the 9-day-fortnight works for Kelly, dad and her daughter. What about AlixPartners?

The company is using cultural and operational change to enable and empower all of its employees to fulfil their ambitions, regardless of gender, ethnicity or personal circumstances.

Kelly’s 9-day-fortnight is one proof of this commitment to inclusivity and taking the long-term view.

As she says: ‘My team at AlixPartners were incredibly supportive and together we were able to create a flexible working plan … which allowed me to continue to develop my career.’

It is authenticity in action; employees being given the flexibility to be their true selves -  in Kelly’s case, the parent-at work, rather than being forced to fit into a rigid company structure.

It is a confident approach that fosters loyalty, boosts productivity and meets the expectations of valuable employees who consider more than the financial reward when deciding who to work for.

Flexible working rights

9-day fortnights can be set up informally, or via flexible working, open for all employees to request (if they have been with the same employer for at least 26 weeks).

Benefits of a 9-day fortnight for returning parents

They can:

•          improve bonding and attachment with their baby

•          feel relaxed and fulfilled having dedicated time with their baby

•          spend more time with their baby without going part-time

•          reduce child care costs until school starts

Benefits of a 9-day fortnight to employers

You can:

•          demonstrate you are an employer of choice

•          tackle the gender gap by making it easier for female employees to return to work and progress

•          plan employees’ child care needs, rather than react to ad hoc requests

•          use it as an option to meet flexible working requests.

Confidence to Return Coaching Services

Get in touch and find out how we can help you support employees who are new parents.

AlixPartners is a results-driven global consulting firm.

Find out more about flexible working


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