Having an employee take time off to become a parent is something that every workplace, large or small, has (or will) experience. Unfortunately, even in 2023, many organizations are still woefully unprepared to reintegrate these employees once their parental leave has come to an end.
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Whether your organization offers 6 weeks or 6 months of parental leave, the process of rejoining your workplace after bringing a child into the world can be difficult and sometimes scary. That is why it is crucial to have a solid reboarding process in place to make the transition as smooth, and as welcoming as possible.
Think of it like employee onboarding. These days, most organizations have a formal process where new hires are eased into their new role, with plenty of support, and a clear plan for their first weeks and months on the job. Bringing a new parent back into your organization requires the same type of welcome, one that prioritizes social connection and experience above all.
With any new process, it can be difficult to know where to start, which is why we’ve put together this handy checklist to help you build a successful reboarding process for employees returning from parental leave.
Let’s get started!
BEFORE they return
Just like onboarding, a good reboarding process starts BEFORE your reboardee lands on day 1. Activities in the pre-return stage are designed to ease your returning employees' worries about their first day back and allow them to prepare, mentally and practically, to get back to the office.
- Assign a reboarding buddy
Connect your reboardee with a buddy they can go to with any questions.
- Send the first-day plans
Share your plans for day 1 with your reboardee and ask for their feedback.
- Create a 'while you were gone' newsletter
Create a short newsletter recapping anything major your reboardee has missed.
- Coordinate essential admin
Ensure any important equipment is ready and logins are shared ahead of day 1.
- Designate a quiet, private space for new mothers to pump
Don't make this your reboardees problem and be sure to find a space that is shielded from view, free from intrusion, and NOT in a bathroom.
What NOT to do before they return:
Don't intrude. Remember that although they will be returning to work soon, this time is still their own with their new baby, so don't overdo the communications here.
FIRST day back
The first day back is all about rolling out the red carpet welcome. Dial back the formalities and plan some enjoyable, social moments where your returning employee can get reacquainted with their old colleagues (and meet any newbies who've joined in their absence).
- Decorate that desk
Make it a warm welcome with a nice card and maybe a small gift or tasty treat!
- Set up an office re-tour
Has your office had an upgrade? Have a quick tour to show your reboardee any changes.
- Schedule a manager catch-up
This is the one non-negotiable meeting for day 1. Get those two on the same page ASAP.
- Organize a 'welcome back' lunch
This one’s an easy win - but be sure to check in with your reboardee's dietary needs.
- Discuss how they want to work
Remote? Hybrid? Full-time in the office? Now is the time to discuss how your reboardee wants to design their working week.
What NOT to do before they return:
Don’t overschedule. No one likes a packed schedule on day one. Give your returning employee time to ease back into the demands of work and plan a schedule with plenty of breathing room.
FIRST week back
Week 1 is about getting your reboardee up-to-speed on what they've missed, figuring out what they need from you while they reintegrate, and preparing them for a strong restart. Activities here should be focused on feedback and connection building.
- Communicate around expectations
Book a session to discuss what your reboardee needs from you to reintegrate successfully.
- Book some team-building time
Help your reboardee reconnect with their team by booking a few team-building sessions.
- Tie up loose admin ends
Paperwork signed, profiles set up, permissions granted. All that essential stuff.
- Make connections
Try connecting your reboardee with other parents who have recently returned to work.
Give your reboardee different ways to check in. A digital pulse check, a phone call, an in-person meeting, whatever they need to feel supported.
What NOT to do in the first week back:
Don’t expect perfection. Parents don't stop being parents when they're at work - especially new parents. So don't expect pre-baby levels of productivity and perfection while they're settling back in.
FIRST month and beyond
The first month is where you can focus on ramping up your reboardee's enthusiasm, confidence and productivity. We want to focus on activities that empower your reboardee, reminding them why they do what they do and why they are a valuable part of your workplace. After that, it's all about building on the framework you've created and uncovering ways to improve your process for next time!
- Reintroduce your organization’s values
Remind your reboardee of all the great things your organization stands for.
- Organize relevant training
Ask your reboardee if there is any training they need to get back up to speed in their role.
- Offer flexibility
Babies don't stick to a schedule, so be sure to actively communicate that you are happy to be flexible with your reboardee's work schedule.
- Book a reboarding feedback session
Find out how your reboardee experienced their reintegration process. What worked? What didn't? And how can HR better support parents returning to the workplace better in the future?
What NOT to do in the first month back:
Don’t stop checking in. Having a child is a life-altering milestone, so be sure to keep checking in with your returning employee to see if they need any extra support - or just want to chat!
Are you ready to reboard your returning team member for success?
Talentech can help!
Download checklist as pdf
Download your own checklist as pdf and tick off the boxes as you progress in building the perfect reboarding journey for your own employees returning from parental leave.