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What is pastoral care in the workplace?

Pastoral care in the workplace involves supporting employees to address, manage and overcome personal issues so they do not become a barrier to their development, productivity and performance.

The personal context up for discussion here is parenthood. Becoming a new parent, and even a second and third-time parent brings a whole new set of emotions, worries and challenges.

Throw that on top of returning to work after parental leave and parents have got a real balancing act on their hands.

New parents may begin to feel anxious, overwhelmed and confused. Wondering how they’ll be able to juggle childcare with the demands of their job, guilt about leaving their child or partner while they go off to work, sleep deprivation and even worrying whether they’ll actually be able to do a good job when they return to work, and still be present for their family.

The anxieties of preparing for and returning from parental leave

Going on parental leave can be a complete shock to the system for some, especially women who choose to start their maternity leave as close to their due date as possible, so they get as much time with their family as possible.

This can often be counterproductive for new parents, as there is zero time for adjustment.

Likewise, returning to work after parental leave isn’t as easy as slotting back in where you left off, as if returning from a two-week holiday, there is a period of preparation and adjustment.

For many, parental leave may be up to a year away from work and without the right support for transition out of and back into their career, parents may find themselves feeling lost and isolated, and possibly as though leaving their job is the only option.

How can employers better support parental leave transitions through pastoral care?

For parent returners, pastoral support can be hugely beneficial to make the transition back into work as smooth and productive as possible.

  • Implement a framework system

Whilst it may seem obvious to care, and provide emotional and practical support to your employees before, during and after parental leave, having a formal system in place means that no one is forgotten during busy times of the year so a consistent level of support can be provided.

Having this system in place also allows for employees to feel engaged as well as feel safe to reach out and seek confidential help with anything they are concerned about or struggling with.

  • Provide a support package

By providing pastoral care for parents going on and returning from leave, as part of an overall support package alongside career and development training, parents can adjust and integrate back into the working environment more easily.

Make sure all employees are aware of the framework you have in place and understand the support available to them – its really important that they are aware of the support that is readily available.

This means that employees can approach their line manager without feeling shame or embarrassment or worrying that it will impact the perception colleagues may have of them in the workplace (granted, not all feel like this, but it is a recurrent theme I have heard from parents).

  • Create an inclusive workplace

Inclusivity is key. Providing an official parental leave framework in place sends a message to prospective and seasoned parents that their organisation really cares about their wellbeing and actively wants to support them in their career.

Even if they aren’t thinking of starting a family right now, they may be considering it in the future, and knowing that their organisation is actively supporting parents in the workplace, plays a huge part in feeling valued and retention.

When employees feel cared for and supported, it has a massive impact on an individual’s confidence levels, mindset and loyalty to their employer. Sounds like common sense right? Well, common sense isn’t always common practice!

Integrating pastoral care into how your organisation manages parental leave transitions could be the missing link in ensuring working parents not only return to their roles, but excel in their careers.

I’m excited to share that I’ve just launched a new digital resource ‘Parental Leave Career Transitions e-Guide – which aims to empower all employees and employers to authentically and collectively engage in parental leave transitions; for an organisation-wide, parent-inclusive working culture.

For more information on how the e-Guide could provide the pastoral support that may be missing from your learning & development and people strategies, please get in contact me with via bloss below. I’d love to find out more about your requirements and how we can best tailor them for your organisation’s needs.

Enquire: [email protected]

Let’s work together in creating an inclusive and welcoming workplace for all parents and parents to be.

Article written by Jo Lawrence bloss expert on parental leave career transitions.