Creating a Returner Friendly Workforce: How Employers Can Help

Supporting working mothers in returning to work is not only beneficial for the employees but also contributes to a positive and inclusive workplace culture. As an employer you can play an important role is their journey.

According to a recent study by the Government Equities Department in the UK,

There are two million people out of the labour market due to caring responsibilities and
almost nine in ten are women. Most of these women would like to return to work, but face
significant barriers including discrimination in recruitment and a lack of flexible working
options. Many of these women are considerably proficient professionally, but often have
to accept job roles incommensurate with their skills and experience. If these women had
facilitated access to the workforce into occupations that matched their capabilities, this
would contribute considerably to reducing the gender pay gap

Here are some strategies to help you support working mothers in their return to work:

Flexible Work Arrangements:

Offer flexible work hours, allowing mothers to adjust their schedules to better accommodate family responsibilities.

Provide options for remote work or part-time arrangements, if possible.

Paid Parental Leave:

Implement or enhance paid parental leave policies to give mothers the necessary time to recover from childbirth and bond with their newborns.

Onsite Childcare Facilities:

If feasible, consider providing onsite childcare facilities or partnering with nearby childcare centers to make it easier for mothers to balance work and family responsibilities.

Lactation Support:

Create lactation rooms or private spaces for breastfeeding or pumping, equipped with the necessary facilities and resources.

Allow flexible break times for mothers to attend to their breastfeeding or pumping needs.

Transition Programs:

Develop return-to-work programs that ease mothers back into their roles, providing training and support to help them catch up with any changes that occurred during their absence.

Mentorship and Networking:

Pair returning mothers with mentors within the organization who can provide guidance and support as they reintegrate into the workforce.

Encourage networking opportunities for mothers to connect with others who have successfully balanced work and family life.

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs):

Offer EAPs that provide counseling and support services, addressing both work-related and personal challenges that may arise during the transition.

Clear Communication:

Maintain open communication channels to understand the specific needs and concerns of returning mothers.

Clearly communicate policies and benefits related to work-life balance and parental support.

The insights from this research identify behavioural solutions to facilitate returners across three areas. Including:
Signaling to returners they are welcome in organisations by explicitly encouraging them to apply to job roles, if not actively targeting them in recruitment. State that job roles are available in a flexible working arrangement and advertise jobs through channels targeted at returners. Conduct welcoming
conversations when returners join the organisation to instil a sense of belonging and better understand their needs.

Professional Development Opportunities:

Provide access to professional development opportunities, training programs, and resources to help mothers stay current in their fields.

Wellness Programs:

Implement wellness programs that focus on the holistic well-being of employees, including mental health resources and stress management support.

Inclusive Policies:

Ensure that company policies are inclusive and do not inadvertently discriminate against or disadvantage working mothers.

Celebrating Milestones:

Acknowledge and celebrate significant life events such as childbirth, birthdays, and work anniversaries to create a positive and supportive work environment.

By implementing these strategies, you can create a workplace that fosters a supportive and inclusive culture for working mothers, ultimately contributing to employee satisfaction and retention.

Over the past few years, our continued goal has been to raise awareness of the powerful impact & value the Returner community in Ireland can bring to the workforce.

To aid our mission, we partner with forward-thinking organisations nationwide to design and create supportive & impactful return to work initiatives and ultimately promote truly inclusive work environments for all.

If you’re ready to reap the many benefits the returner can bring to your organisations, we invite you to take part in our brand-new interactive quiz:


Based on your confidential answers, our team will match your organisation with tailored tools & resources to support your returner-open journey.