Pregnancy. It’s beautiful. It’s magical—it also affects every woman differently.
For some, working up until their due date is in the cards, but others may find themselves put on medical bed rest in their second trimester. The experience varies widely from person to person, and from pregnancy to pregnancy. So, when putting together policies to support pregnant employees, remember that every employee’s experience is going to be different. Your plans should reflect a diverse set of scenarios that enable your people to handle the work/pregnancy balance in their own, individual way. As a benefits leader, it’s important to understand and support your people during this important life transition—thoughtful planning can help build loyalty and improve employee retention in the long term.
How can you best support your pregnant employees?
- Don’t jump to conclusions: Most pregnant women are able to work successfully throughout their pregnancies. Encourage supervisors to work with pregnant employees, rather than assume they will be unavailable for projects or specific kinds of work. As with any other employee, they can make their own decisions about workload, work-related travel, transition planning, and maternity leave.
- Transition planning: Help your organization create standardized plans for managing job functions, communications, and other details for both the pregnant employee and her team as she prepares for maternity leave. You’ll help her reduce stress with a standard framework for her to use—ensuring responsibilities are handled in her absence and that she’ll have a warm welcome and smooth transition when she returns.
- Open the door to concerns: Be proactive about communicating your pregnancy support policies to your people—before they need them. If a woman has an unexpected complication early in her pregnancy, she may need your assistance communicating with her manager and her team around unscheduled absences and handing off responsibilities.
- Flexible work options: All pregnancies are different, but many women experience fatigue, nausea, and some level of physical discomfort. They may find it easier to work from home, where they can lie down, move around as needed, have private bathroom access, and wear more comfortable clothing. If your company can easily accommodate remote work, it can be a wonderful option for your pregnant employees.