We spoke to two women in STEM careers about their experience in the sector and what it was like returning from a career break. They spoke about what support they received from their employers and what they would like to see in future for people returning from a career break, especially for mothers.
If you own a business or are a manager in a company these are some things to consider when you have a colleague returning to work after having a child or any other career break. If you are returning from a career break then make sure to ask your employers for consideration.
Tips for employers: What people want to see returning from a career break
- Consider allowing flexibility of working hours – For example if an employee is contracted 9am-5pm but needs an hour at 4pm to pick up the children, it could be of great help if they could make up that hour at 6pm?
- Give them time to learn the job and help refresh any skills they might need – Often when people return to work they may be anxious about their ability. It’s important that they are given a settling in period to be confident in what they are producing. If your employee is anxious about what they have to do, their performance will not be as good.
- Ensure regular communication – when someone has returned from a break it’s important to continually check in and make sure they know exactly what is needed of them. It is better to be approachable so that they feel they can ask questions if they need help. Again this will mean they are able to perform better than if they are left without clear communication and make mistakes.
- Be compassionate – After returning from a career break many people feel stressed or experience imposter syndrome. They may have some days where they struggle and it is important to encourage your employees/ colleagues at this point. The main thing to do is not patronise them or suggest that they are not as competent as they may have been before the break. It is important to remind people – especially women they are still just as skilled and qualified even after a career break.