Pregnancy is one of the most exciting and vital times in a woman’s life. It’s beautiful to see a powerful woman bearing a child and eventually gracing the world with their presence. However, pregnancy does present some challenges for the modern woman.
Between holding a career and taking care of themselves and their unborn child, there are several obstacles a woman has to overcome. As employers, you should extend your hand in aiding pregnant employees by establishing a more welcoming work environment that helps them thrive and makes them feel safe until they’re ready to give birth.
Ways to Make a Welcoming Work Environment for Pregnant Employees
If you’re an employer who strongly wants to foster an amenable environment for a pregnant employee, let this article serve as your guide in making your workplace a safe space.
1. Revisit relevant laws and regulations about pregnancy and maternity in the workplace
As a responsible employer, you must revisit relevant laws and regulations regarding maternity and pregnancy. Familiarize yourself with essential protocols such as the Republic Act 11210 or the 105-Day Expanded Maternity Leave Law.
Such laws protect women from being discriminated against or unjustly let go from their jobs due to pregnancy. You must be knowledgeable about these laws to avoid unintentionally maltreating your pregnant worker.
2. Re-brief them on the company’s maternity policies
Pregnant employees should immediately be re-briefed about the company’s maternity policies. This step is crucial as it informs the pregnant employee of their rights, what they’re encouraged to do, how much time they can have off during and after their pregnancy terms, and other essential maternity policies.
3. Offer flexible schedules and work options
Some employers can offer informal flexibility, as a private internal agreement between a higher-up and an employee. However, this may not always be the best approach, as pregnant employees may be reluctant to take advantage due to the risk of appearing less committed to their work.
The best course of action is to set concrete terms and formalize a pregnant employee’s flexible schedule and work options. Formalizing flexibility will eliminate the stress of taking time off when necessary.
The key is to normalize grabbing the opportunity of a flexible working arrangement when pregnant, as it encourages employees to take time off and attend critical medical appointments beneficial to the birth of their child.
4. Brief your in-house medical team
Being pregnant is a medically sensitive situation, and briefing your in-house medical team on the circumstances makes a pregnant woman’s work-life easier. Keep expert physicians informed if the expecting employee needs medical assistance related to her pregnancy.
Your company can make the necessary preparations upon learning about the pregnancy and before an employee takes maternity leave to better prepare for the different circumstances and the medical aspect of the reintegration after childbirth.
5. Draft a plan for transition and reintegration
Creating a transition plan that includes a checklist and turnover timeline of projects can guide an employee’s transition to maternity leave. Drafting a transition plan helps the mother-to-be and her colleagues acclimate to the inevitable temporary change in workload.
Aside from the maternity transition plan, you can also design a reintegration plan once the pregnancy is over.
Establishing support systems, temporarily offering to work from home, and new parent support groups within your workforce could ease the expecting mother’s stress and remove some doubt about their future with the company.
6. Educate employees on sensitive pregnancy matters
There are actionable strategies employers can implement to reduce detrimental health and well-being effects on pregnant employees. Specifically, supportive colleagues can act as stress-reducing resources.
Pregnant employees exhibit stronger mental health when they’re met with social support; thus, facilitating support groups and educating employees on the delicate nature of pregnancy is critical.
Superiors must always have a clear line of communication with the employee to know how they can assist in creating social opportunities.
Additionally, superiors can create an inclusive organizational climate by actively inquiring about the pregnant employees’ work experience and listening to what they say about the matter. Such is imperative for sustaining and developing psychological safety for pregnant employees.
Nurturing a Safe Space
The modern woman is often fearful of being pregnant at the peak of their career due to erroneous past notions surrounding the delicate matter. However, employees are more empowered and supported now in the modern workforce compared to the past, when employers were generally uninformed on ways they could properly handle employee pregnancy.
As a responsible employer who actively puts the well-being of their employees at the forefront, keep these actionable ways in mind to make the workplace a welcoming environment for pregnant women.
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