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Flexible Careers Lifestyle And Wellbeing Mums Returning To Work Work Journeys

Meet Rebecca Amin

Rebecca Amin, Our New Flexible Working Warrior on MummyJobs.

One in three working mums suffer with unmanageable levels of anxiety and stress caused by managing a job and looking after children, according to a survey by Smart TMS – a mental health clinic.

This is a statistic I and, I am sure, many other mothers can relate to. Sadly this is often a silent struggle – many fearing if we voice our feelings we may be judged as a bad employee or bad mum. We thought we could have it all – the career and the family, is this how it is meant to feel? Should we just suck it up and get on with it?

I am Rebecca Amin, a Career Coach and I used to think that’s just how it would have to be. Thankfully, my mind-set has now changed, but it wasn’t easy.

Returning To Work After Maternity Leave.

In February 2016, I returned to work after my second maternity leave with all the thoughts so many of us have, “it’s my time to get back to my career, to being me again!” I returned, full of excitement, ready for phase two of my career – the post-children part. With some trepidation – I had returned from one maternity leave two years before and struggled. I had fallen pregnant quite soon after my return, so put my lack of passion for my work down to pregnancy and first time mum stuff – getting to grips with nursery, new routine etc. This time it was for real. Time to make my mark again, get back to the heady days of high performance, recognition, loving my career again…

BANG. It didn’t happen. At first I gave myself time to settle back in, gave myself allowances. However, each day felt harder and harder to find motivation for my work and all passion for what I did had gone. The fact was the environment and work I was doing had lost its shine. I didn’t care enough. I still did what was needed, because I had to, not because I got any enjoyment from my work.

This is not what I expected. I had always enjoyed my job. At first I felt confused – what was wrong with me? Was I suffering from delayed post-natal depression? Why was everyone else happy? Then guilt – why is this not enough for me? I should feel lucky to have a good job, healthy kids, a nice home… Next resent and anger. Why should I do this? Why can’t I do something that gives me some satisfaction?

Looking back, this looks like the stages of grief and I now believe, in some way, I was grieving my working life pre-children. 

My Career No Longer Suited Me.

Don’t get me wrong – I love being a mum. I wanted to have a career, but I couldn’t carry on like this. As I worked through what was happening it became clear the career I was in was simply the wrong fit for me at this point in my life. I wanted to do something more worthwhile and meaningful to me. I needed to make a change – but what and how?

Despite the creeping sense of greyness blanketing my life, I needed my salary and an alternative job that I felt excited about, at the right level was hard to find. As a result, I wound up feeling completely stuck.

The Need To Make Positive Career Choices.

For a time, I told myself sticking with a job I was unhappy in, was what it meant to be grown-up. It was the realistic and responsible choice… But this approach was not sustainable if I wanted to protect my mental health and be happy at work, and therefore in life, again. I went round in circles and eventually bit the bullet and made changes. I took a four month sabbatical. During which I spent time reflecting on what would make me happy. I thought about what I really needed in my working life and career and trained as an accredited Career Coach.

I have since found these thoughts and feelings of course were not exclusive to me. It made me feel shocked and saddened to realise just how prevalent this unhappiness, anxiety and stress is, in working mums. This is why I dedicate my coaching to supporting mums in the same situation.

Of course not all stressed mums need a total career change. Some do, but some simply need tweaks – more flexibility. Not to be made to feel guilty for going to Sports Day, not smiling on the outside apparently holding it all together, but regularly hiding in the bathroom crying on the days it all feels too much.

Mental Health At Work.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, almost 15% of working adults experience mental health problems in the workplace. Women in full-time work are twice as likely to suffer than men (19.8% vs. 10.9%). People Management have reported more than a third who have flexible working experience an improvement in their mental health as a direct result. 

The Future Of Work.

I love supporting my clients to take control and figure out changes to get back to being happy in their careers again. What I would love even more would be if more felt flexibility at work was an option. Not something gifted to you once you have proved yourself after years of service. And I don’t mean the honour of being allowed to work from home on a Friday, but true flexibility that impacts on life for the better. Seeing so many leave jobs with flexibility at the crux of their struggles is outrageous. The talent lost. The confidence shattered of individuals feeling like they are failing. The belief they can’t continue professional careers if they have children and need flexibility. 

The optimist in me feels the tide may be turning. I for one truly hope we may be at a pivotal point for flexible working. 

If you enjoyed this post share across your social platforms. Also tune in next month to read more on children being career passion killers…

If you would like to find out more about my Career Coaching, please visit my website Rebecca Amin Coaching.

Or connect with me on my Facebook Page and Facebook Group, Career Happy Mums. 

Rebecca Amin
Rebecca Amin

Categories
Flexible Careers Mums Returning To Work Work Journeys

Successfully Navigate Career Change

As we reach different points in our lives, our priorities change. As parents, many of us are looking for flexible work in order to achieve work/life balance and this may mean making a career change.

Most people find the idea of change unsettling and worrying, but if you do the groundwork you can face it with confidence.

 

A Guest Post from The Coaching Partners

STARTING POINT

Use Your Expertise

Over your career to date, you will have built up a whole host of skills, knowledge and expertise. A career change does not necessarily mean you need to start over. Use the expertise you have to take elements forward as you adapt, pivot and flex towards a new career path.

Find Something That You Love

Spend some time thinking about which elements of your past roles you enjoyed and were passionate about. We all have parts of our jobs we dislike or even dread. Which components raised your energy levels? Focus on these energy-boosting elements when making a career change.

MAKING CONNECTIONS

Use your network to explore new opportunities. Cast a wide net to find people in the right circles. If you have taken time out of your career, perhaps to raise a family, you may have developed new social networks. Who have you met at your children’s nursery, school or activity classes? Are you part of any hobby/interest groups where you meet different people?

Think about how you can leverage your network. The more conversations you can have with people where you talk about your career change, the more ideas, leads and connections you will build up to help you.

PLANNING

Think about your long term career aspirations

Think about your long term career aspirations, not just short term goals. Taking some time out to really reflect on what you want to do with your career long term will lead to greater career fulfilment.

Future-Proofing

Future-proofing your career is simply taking steps to prepare yourself for a changing work environment. We are already seeing workplace changes in light of the current Covid-19 pandemic where enforced remote working and a greater reliance on technology is prevalent. Rather than waiting for changes to happen and being reactive, future-proofing involves a proactive approach where you ensure your skills and expertise are highly marketable in the job market.

Career Change Path

How will you make your career change? Having a plan can help you to navigate the change successfully. Will you resign from your existing role and dedicate yourself entirely to this career change or will you move towards your career change in conjunction with an existing role?

You could think about building a side hustle, which is a great way to test your new career path or business idea. Once you have developed and tested your side hustle, you could make this your main occupation.

BRIDGE THE GAPS

Demonstrate Your Transferable Skills

You need to be able to demonstrate transferable skills. Do you have a portfolio or blog to demonstrate your relevant work? Update your personal branding including your CV and LinkedIn profiles. Adapt these to your new chosen career path and highlight your transferable skills.

Close Gaps in Your Skillset

There may be gaps between where you are now and where you want to be. How can you take the next steps and get real experience in your new chosen career? Can you pick up freelance work? Could you volunteer?

 


You need to close the gaps in your skillset and prove that you have the capability to do the work you want to do. Can you take online classes or undertake relevant professional certifications?

Career change requires careful planning and consideration to be successful. It can be a welcome opportunity to gain new experiences, find flexible work and to achieve work-life balance.

The Coaching Partners offer a range of services that will help you successfully navigate a career change. If you’d like to learn more about them then see what they have to offer here – The Coaching Partners

Look out for some more fabulous blogs on career changes here on MummyJobs.co.uk

We also have some great stories on our sister site FindYourFlex.co.uk like this one from Leila Singh.

 

Categories
Mums Returning To Work Professional Mums Work Journeys

The Great Baby And Career Balancing Act

How I Balanced A Baby And A Career

Guest Post By Lyndsey Shankland

As a businesswoman, my whole adult life was dedicated to my career in recruitment. I loved it! Balancing a baby and a career hadn’t been on the agenda. My true passion was my career, my reason for being, and everything else could wait.

But that all changed when I turned 38. Cupid’s arrow struck. Now generally speaking, I’m not someone to jump straight in, but this was it. By the age of 39 I was married. I became a new mother just three weeks after my 41st birthday.

Yep, I might be a slow starter when it comes to having a family of my own. However, when it’s right, it’s right!

I had real problems getting my head around the concept of taking six months off work. I mean, who was going to lead my projects, partner with my stakeholders, source new candidates and help keep those business wheels turning? How would I balance a baby and a career?

Even with years of experience working in American businesses globally and in regional roles, with responsibility for leading teams across EMEA, APAC and AMER I worried.  Would I be cast aside now I was a mother with other priorities was never far from my mind?

With so many women finding themselves ‘surplus to requirements’ and facing redundancy after returning from maternity leave, the days with my newborn were tainted with worry.

And sadly, my worries weren’t unfounded

The Return To Work… Or Not!

I enjoyed six blissful months of maternity leave with my little Oliver. Then on my first day back at work I was hit with a huge bombshell. My role was being relocated to the US. There was absolutely no way I could move.

Not only did I have my husband and son to think about, but my mum has young on-set vascular dementia and needs me more now than ever.

I went through a storm of emotions as I struggled to come to terms with the ‘loss’ of the job I loved. I’d always been the stronger partner in a financial sense. So worries about the mortgage, bills, other financial commitments, an unwell mother and a new baby caused a lot of anxiety.

How was I going to set myself apart from other job seekers in an already saturated market? For anyone who’s ever had an insight into the recruitment industry, you’ll know that recruiters are like gremlins – put a little water on us and we multiply!

How was I going to compete with these bright young things that didn’t have the commitments and family priorities I did?

Taking Back Control

So, I had two choices. Either put on my dressing gown and drown my sorrows in a family-sized tub of Ben and Jerry’s, or get proactive.

I took the latter option. I took control of the situation with the life-changing decision to start my own business.

After all, I had 18 years experience as an in-house head of talent acquisition. I have seen the good, bad and ugly of the recruitment world first hand. So why should I end up on the career scrap heap just because I had a child?

I considered my goals and formed my plan of action. I wanted to be a good recruiter of course, but I also wanted to be a good wife, daughter and mother.

Flexibility Is Key

For my plan to succeed, flexibility was central. Before I decided to start my own business, I was headhunted numerous times. I found however that employers were put off by my insistence on regular home office days and my need to balance a baby with a career.

So, I started out on my own with a business model of working with only a select number of clients in engineering and pharmaceutical markets, taking on just 2 or 3 at a time.

This allowed me to offer a higher quality, fully tailored recruitment service to both the global businesses I support and the talent I headhunt.

Clients And Cuddles

Fast forward to October this year. I’m working on four roles for two different clients. This doesn’t just ‘bring home the bacon’ as you’d say, it means I can fit in a cuddle with Oliver and hubby Iain. I can do so without feeling a crippling sense of guilt that I’m letting anyone down.

We have lunch together, and then I crack back on with the international calls. We’ve flown to a few places together already too: Dubai, Milan, Florence, Hamburg. We are due to visit the US in a couple of weeks. It’s living the dream of being able to keep the career I’ve worked hard to achieve AND feel like I can be a good wife and Mum too!

And it’s on MY terms

It’s still early days yet. Some days the struggle is real, trying to balance a baby and a career – but it’s on our terms as a family.

I’m still feeling really positive about the future.

I can’t say too much right now, but I’ll be taking on a new role towards the end of the year. This is with a business which values my skills. Skills that haven’t changed just because I’m a mother. They appreciate that I need some family time too. I’ve finally found a position that allows me to do the job I love and carry on with the most important roles of all – a mummy, a wife and a daughter.

Mum and baby birthday celebrations

My Advice To You

If you think you’re in the worst situation possible and about to lose your job, I’m living proof that you can regain control of your life. You can continue to follow your dreams without compromising on integrity or family commitments.

I still have to work very hard to keep all the plates spinning, but I’m enjoying it! My skills are still relevant and in demand even though I have a family. I am balancing a baby and a career!

And as a recruitment expert and mum, I should know!

Blog Post by Lyndsey Shankland

If you enjoyed reading this blog you may enjoy reading this blog

Categories
High Profile Returners Mums Returning To Work Productivity & Flexibility Professional Mums Work Journeys

An HR Journey with Pitney Bowes!

This Mum Can…

I have multiple jobs in my life, (1) mummy to two crazy, beautiful, boisterous boys (2) wife and general domestic goddess 😉 (3) career HR professional looking to change the world! Life is busy, my mind is busy. Lack of time frustrates me, yet I am determined to make it all work. Determined to make a difference.

The Juggling Act

This is all made possible with trust and empowerment, complete workplace autonomy from thought to working arrangements and amazing childcare. Me and the hubby manage nursery pick up and drop off, we don’t have family who can look after the kids, therefore having understanding childcare provision is so important to me.

Getting The Experience

Rewind back to 2003, studying for a degree in HR & Business. Not wanting to be one of those people who ‘just had a degree’, I set out to gain real life experience. Having worked in River Island and New Look in the evenings and at the weekend, I connected with retailers. I asked them to take me on for FREE in their HR team.

I was incredibly grateful to the HR Director, and the team at Faith Footwear Limited. They fully integrated me and gave me fabulous insights, projects and learning opportunities. You’ll be pleased to know that they did pay me too ;-).

From there I went to TUI for a short stint, until they closed their Greater London House office. Then I went to Sodexho. I worked under a superb manager who gave me huge learning opportunities to really find my feet.

The Move To Pitney Bowes

Starting to get more settled at home I made the move to Pitney Bowes. This was closer to home too. Fast forward 11 years and I’m still here. I work with a collaborative, exciting and dynamic leadership team. I’m proud to work with them. They embrace my crazy, quirky ideas and I’m part of their team. None of this exciting stuff would be possible without their engagement, and the support of others in the HR team. I partner closely with my Talent Acquisition partners who have joined me on this journey.

“At Pitney Bowes we recognise the importance of building a diverse and inclusive pipeline of talent. We’re a growing business, almost 100 years old, and we’re currently in the middle of an exciting transformation. Our people play a crucial part in this journey.”

What Do Pitney Bowes Offer?

I’m hugely excited and proud that in 2018 we launched a collection of Family Friendly roles. From a contingent workforce model, school hours, term time to job pairs. With every sales role that we have, we always consider each time – can we make this work differently? Every step of the way we are assessing the effectiveness of these roles, determining ways to engage the talent pool and tell them about our unique value proposition.

Along with our Family Friendly roles, we created our Charter, to help explain our commitment to this space:

“Family life is important. We get it. At Pitney Bowes we recognise the importance of balancing work and personal life. We offer fantastic career opportunities, flexibility, but most importantly, understanding.”

We welcome applications from those who want to be able to care of loved ones, older and younger, and those of the furry kind.  Not forgetting those who want to quit the 9-5 or those who just occasionally are able to connect with their work selves. So basically all those who want flexibility.

At the end of Q3 we will complete a formal review of these roles and the impact that they have had. We want to see the impact on our organisation, our teams and on the lives of those who we have been able to welcome in to the workplace. I’m passionate and I care. Therefore I cannot wait to see how this intervention transforms our employee experience.

Learn More About Pitney Bowes

If you’d like to learn more about who we are, our offering or simply network. Or maybe you want to understand how we can create the platform for more flexibility in the workplace get in touch! Drop me a line at: [email protected]

Categories
Gender Pay Gap Productivity & Flexibility Work Journeys

Would improving men’s rights help close the gender pay gap?

Written by Fiona Halkyard @ Chatter Communications

I don’t really think of myself as much of a feminist. I don’t get offended if a man holds a door open for me or calls me “love” (to be fair living in Yorkshire, it’s a pre-requisite and even men get called love, so score one for equality!). But I am a woman who’s pretty dedicated to her career. I’m a working mum. And, most importantly, I have three daughters who are (in my completely neutral opinion) amazing human beings who will go on to be brilliant adults. And for them, and their generation, I’d like to see true gender equality finally become a real thing.

And so there are certain “female” issues that really piss me off. And the current bee in my bonnet is the gender pay gap (which leaves British women earning an average of 17.4% less than men in similar full-time jobs and places us 15th out of 22 countries*). Or rather the gender bias that continues to dog our society and prevent women from achieving the same career success as their male counterparts.

My experiences

Through my twenties my career progressed quite successfully and initially, being female didn’t really factor. But once I moved into a management role I started to become aware of nuanced differences between the way I was treated compared to men of a similar age.

There was a “boys club” of up and coming ad execs who got invited to golf/beers/important client dinners with the MD and Chairman and suddenly progressed their careers far quicker than me and my female colleagues. The most memorable moment that made me stop and pay attention that perhaps I wasn’t being judged purely on my ability, was the conversation I had with the company Chairman when being considered for a promotion and he “joked” that he was only considering me because he “trusted” that I wasn’t just going to “run off and have babies anytime soon”. I was 27, engaged, and whilst not immediately planning a family, I knew it probably wasn’t too far off in my future. Yet I had to pretend that “no, no I’m a dedicated career woman, none of this baby nonsense for me” in order to pass his “test”.

I wonder if any man has ever felt that pressure? They certainly didn’t in that particular business where men could marry and become Dads without a single raised eyebrow from the powers that be. To be aware that even the potential of a marriage/baby that may not happen for a decade or more (or ever) could be a factor you have to answer to because you are “a woman of a certain age” is frustrating and archaic. And while most employers are far too savvy/legally compliant to ask the question that my old boss did, we all know that it is often consciously or unconsciously a factor when hiring or promoting a young woman.

And to some extent I get it. Women do often have babies in their late twenties, thirties, forties. And then want reduced/flexible hours. And that costs a business, especially a small one, a lot of money that perhaps doesn’t make up for the value of the employee in their child free years. But women do not choose to be born female. So why should they have to choose career or parenthood? Men don’t. Does that make men better at their jobs? Does it make them lesser parents? In my opinion the answer is no.

The here and now

The UK has made fabulous strides over the past 11 years, since I became a mum, to make it a little bit easier to juggle motherhood and working life. Maternity pay/leave have been extended and it’s become the norm to take a year or more off and still return to a well paid role. Flexible working policies have also become fairly common place, allowing women to balance the demands of work and parenting. Which is all brilliant. But still comes with restrictions. Breakfast meetings, after work networking, long days of travel, are all pretty hard to work around most childcare provisions. And whilst colleagues can be supportive, you can still feel that you’re more “difficult” to work with than a child-free colleague. And that affects confidence, your feelings of job security, it can put you off applying for a promotion or new role as you don’t want to upset the status quo.

And so women tread water while their kids are young and their male counterparts progress. And by the time you’re able to be “all in” at work, you’ve reached a glass ceiling and are reporting into men with 10 years less experience than you have. And so the gender pay gap persists.

So what’s the answer? What can we do? Even more benefits and support for women? Maybe. But to change the social stigma, how about we focus on men?

Again the UK has made some excellent progress in sharing the load of parental responsibility in the work place with paid paternity leave and shared parental leave and the opportunity for anyone to apply for flexible working. But it’s still not the norm. Paid paternity leave is still only funded by the government for 2 weeks. Our parenting leave is only the 11th most equal out of 21 countries* with shared parental leave a minefield to organise and flexible or part time working is still something that feels more aimed at women than men (men make up only 25.8% of the part-time workforce, leaving the UK 16th out of 21 countries measured *). Dads who take extended time off to be with their new baby tend to face social stigma, or at least a few raised eyebrows. And this means that on average, British men spend 24 minutes caring for children, for every hour done by women, according to the Fatherhood Institute’s Fairness In Families Index (FIFI).

People also presume that the woman will be the one to take a career break as the man is earning more (a comment even my own husband made, completely forgetting that when we started a family we were on equal salaries, as many couples are). And on the flip side, women whose partners take more time off than them are seen as “lesser” mums, putting their career before their kids. And because of all of this, men in their late twenties and early thirties are still not associated with the “pregnancy risk” that may entail a career break or reducing their hours at some point, even if married or with long term partners.

But if we could encourage more men to take up the opportunity to be at home with their kids, work flexibly and take on more of the parental juggle – without being judged for it. If we bring our kids up to see that both mum and dad can be their carer and have a career maybe things might finally be come more equal.

And if a parental career break (or indeed a mid-life career break for any purpose) becomes society’s standard for both men and women, then the glass ceiling might finally shatter. Maybe not for me and my peers (if we’re lucky we’ll be retired by then!). But if my daughters can dream, believe and achieve with no limits, then that would be a wonderful thing.

*stats taken from the Fatherhood Institute’s Fairness In Families Index 2016

Categories
Mums Returning To Work Productivity & Flexibility Professional Mums Work Journeys

I have 1.4 million candidates available but I am only sending them to Goldman Sachs!

We are currently experiencing a huge skills shortage, my financial services clients and manufacturing clients seem to spend their lives hiring, they fill one position and another becomes available. How are we going to find the staff to keep up? Well the first option and obvious one is to up-skill internally (but I’ll save that for another rant) the second option is to tap into the UKs 1.4 million eligible candidates!

| Who are they, what do they do and where do I get my hands on them?! |

Well, do you remember Susan your former FD who got pregnant but couldn’t come back full-time because of childcare? Well bingo, we have 1.4 million Susan’s.

And because 95% of employers are yet to realise we need our Susan’s and still believe the world is full of 20-year-old geniuses with 16 years’ experience willing to work for £20,000, we are currently the crappiest Western country when it comes to getting parents back into work; 27% lower than any other country in fact!

Well done United Kingdom, we have actually managed to go backwards!

After the war when we had a skills shortage (admittedly slightly more severe than the one we have now) we created on-site nurseries, so women could come to work and know there was a safe, guaranteed place for their children to be! Genius.

Now whilst 95% of employers are damn average at supporting parents back into work, 5% have actually realised the value of Susan(s) and have taken the initiative to do something about their skills shortage, staff turn over and retention! (For the purpose of this argument, I am ignoring you fantastic supporters of flexible working, this is purely focussed on on-site support) Goldman Sachs is leading the way, they now have on-site nurseries in their London, Tokyo and New York offices. In locations where they can’t provide childcare facilities, they work with local nurseries to subsidise their facilities for employees. They also provide after school and holiday clubs for 5-12 year olds, which has proved to be exceptionally popular! Around 1400 Goldman Sachs employees use their childcare services! 1400! That’s ¼ of their employees.

I know I know, Goldman Sachs have so much money it’s not a fair comparison! They could give every new starter a gold-plated calculator and diamond stapler!

“My company is too small I can’t afford to fund internal childcare” – well yes that’s pretty bloody obvious! However, you also thought you couldn’t afford a fancy meeting suite, coffee machine and serviced lift but you found a small office to rent in a shared building with all those perks.

Welcome shared office child-care suites!

https://secondhome.io/ http://www.third-door.com/ https://www.officreche.com/#

“Article 50 is coming” and we still have little to no idea on how it is going to impact our current foreign workers. We have 2.2 million EU workers; let’s say 50% leave the UK, that leaves us with an additional 1.1 million vacancies on top of the current 770,000. If you think it’s hard to recruit now, imagine an additional 1 million vacant positions!

Let’s do the maths here, if above 50% leave the UK we will be left with 1,870,000 vacancies. There are only 1.4 million unemployed people in the UK, even if they all were miraculously suitable and skilled for current vacancies we still have a deficit of 470,000 jobs with no people to fill them.

Surely this is reason enough to really consider how you are making work accessible for parents, particularly single parents!

Take 6 minutes out of your day to hear Rohan Silva and Rachel Carrell discuss how you can overcome the challenges of childcare for parents!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05b4vzh

Written by Harriet Finch @ https://www.linkedin.com/in/harrietfinch/

Categories
High Profile Returners Mums Returning To Work Professional Mums Work Journeys

JUST GO FOR IT!

Interested in coming back to work after a break? Charlotte Blyton discusses how she got back into the workplace via Deloitte’s Return to Work programme. Since returning, she has been named one of Timewise’s Power Returners, and been promoted from Senior Manager to Associate Director. She offers her advice around returning to work.

“My advice for those thinking about returning to work after a break is just go for it. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. We’ve all been there and thought ‘I can’t do it’. But you can. I was considering taking a part time management job at a pre-school, until I heard about the Deloitte Return to Work programme.

I’d lost confidence; my world had narrowed and I’d lowered my expectations. A friend who’s a career coach told me I shouldn’t limit myself, that there are opportunities out there. She was right. I was one of the eight Deloitte alumni asked to join the pilot scheme in 2015. I came back in as a Senior Manager, was offered a permanent role, and am now an Associate Director in Tax Management Consulting. I believe I can be a Director; it’s just a question of getting there.

This is a fantastic opportunity to get back on the career ladder. Even just applying and going to the insight day builds your confidence. I got so much out of it, even before I was offered a role. The programme gives you a chance to get back up to speed. You still have to deliver, but in a more supportive environment.”

Charlotte Blyton
Associate Director, Tax Consulting

Categories
Mums Returning To Work Work Journeys

Find yourself

Apart from the weight gain, hair loss, loss of inhibition and sudden fascination with bowel movements, one of the most common side effects of having a baby is a loss of confidence.

And we’re not just talking about in your abilities as a mother (let’s face it, we’re all winging it), but in doing the job you’d been doing for years before that.

You’ve gained a child, a family, a new purpose in life – but have you lost you?

So many women report that they’re no longer seen as a person in their own right, merely a mother. Combine this with the worrying number of mums who return to work when they don’t want to, or are prevented from working by redundancy or prohibitive childcare costs, and it’s clear that we’re facing a parenthood confidence crisis.

Kim Cutler, of MummyJobs coaching partner Storm McQueen, became a life coach after struggling to balance her stressful City career with looking after her two young children.

She says: “I had my first baby in 2014 and returned to work after a very short maternity leave of four months. What played heavily on my mind was the amount of hours I had worked pre-motherhood.

“I began to read The Success Principles by Jack Canfield, and, from this, I took action and got the support of a life coach. After just a two-hour phone call, I had been completely taken out of my comfort zone of allowing fear to control my life.
“Much to my own shock, I immediately called my boss and said I wanted to leave!”

The difficulty of balancing the professional and the personal is a common theme among Kim’s clients.
She says: “The common challenges I see with my clients when they prepare to return to work are loss of confidence, loss of identity and worries about flexibility.

“Pre-children, the majority were able to give full focus and time to their work, post-children, they can’t possibly see how this will work. For example, if a meeting runs over, pre-kids you would just stay until it’s finished; post children, you have to collect them from nursery, so you have to leave.”

So how can a life coach help? While their job isn’t to offer advice as such, a coach will encourage you to question yourself and establish what you want out of life.

Having a clear plan and the confidence to ask for it is often the key to making a flexible working request achievable – present your employer with a solution, not a problem.

Kim says the question to ask is: “What does your ideal week look like?” Once this is defined, how does this fit around the roles and tasks? What can you propose that works for you and employer?”

Like all of us here at MummyJobs, Kim’s vision of the future is for a fully flexible working environment, where parents are valued for what they bring to the workplace, rather than judged for what they take.

“I hope that more and more organisations realise the huge loss of talent through not offering flexibility in the workplace.

“I would also love to see coaching programmes more widely used in support of returners, this has such a significant impact on employee output and wellbeing.”

If you feel you could benefit from a confidence boost, whether in your personal or professional life, check out our partners here.

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Flexible Industries Mums Returning To Work Work Journeys

Aviva : A return to work special…

Hi, my name is Gemma and I recently returned back to work from maternity leave.

My partner and I decided to take advantage of the shared maternity/ paternity scheme that Aviva offered last year. I took the first 6 months off, whilst then my husband took the following 4 months off on paternity leave to be with our daughter.

It was a great opportunity as we both got the chance to spend quality time with her as we knew we would never get this time back!

When I came back to work I mentioned that I wanted some flexibility with the hours I worked, as I wanted to spend at least one day every fortnight being actively present in the development of my daughter.

Aviva were very supportive of this request and with the support of my team and manager we made this happen.

I consider that having my husband off whilst I came back to work, took a considerable amount of worry and stress away from me, as I was able to fully focus on my job and get used to work life again.

Since the announcement last November from Aviva on the increase of time for the shared maternity/ paternity policy agreement, it has made me think how else could Aviva support staff in the transition back to work, as we should be able to offer so much more than just an amended policy.

I have since started a working group with the coaching and people function to try and set up a maternity/ paternity transition coaching service for staff going off and coming back to the workplace. Offering support and guidance back into the world of work.

This not allows us to support our people from a policy perspective but from a human/ family perspective too. The aim of the coaching program is to help employees handle the practical and emotional aspects of a parent transition, regardless if this is your first, second or third child in a way it also enables the parent to develop in their careers post maternity or paternity.

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High Profile Returners Professional Mums Work Journeys

A Tale Of Two…

Part time working professional

Once upon a time, I was a full time working professional. As company accountant, I loved my job. I loved the business I worked for. My job really did define who I was. Whenever I met new people, conversation would always have the same starting point. “What’s your name?” and “what do you do for a living?” were always the openers.

Then my life changed about a bit. I had dependants – young and old. I was needed, me personally. This couldn’t be delegated or outsourced to anyone else. Perhaps it wasn’t that it couldn’t be, perhaps it was more that it wouldn’t be. Either way, I could no longer do it all.
And so I became a part time working professional.

Then began the search, the CV updating, the networking, the marketing of myself. It soon became very clear that there are really not many part time, senior, challenging, exciting jobs. In the finance world, I could easily find part time work in very junior positions. I would not be using my years of experience and skills, I would not be stretched, I would likely be very bored.

So why was it so hard? Shouldn’t I by treated the same as a full time worker? Shouldn’t I be judged on my CV, my skills and experience regardless? Shouldn’t I be treated in the manner with which I had been treated previously, I was after all the same person?

I could answer these questions myself quite easily – the answer was a resounding NO.

I’m not the same person. It’s that simple. I used to be able to put in 60 hour weeks quite easily. I used to be the dependable one that would always be there in a crisis. I’d always be the one to work early mornings and late nights when it was needed. I cannot do that now.
So in some ways, I’m not as good as I once was. That’s the harsh reality.

But in so many other ways – I am better.

I manage my time better. I might not be in the office full time, but trust me, I have a LOT on my to do list. Some of it work related, some of it not. But nonetheless, I get a lot done in my week. Being in the office part time puts an extra focus on getting things done. More gets done ‘today’ because I can’t guarantee having the time to dedicate to it tomorrow. I am better than I once was.

I can multi task better than I ever thought possible. Juggling a job and a family is pretty commonplace. There are many people out there who do it. But it will never appear on a CV as a skill. I can switch so quickly to the most urgent crisis (whether it’s a financing proposal or a desperate need to provide something for the school cake sale!) and I’ll switch back the second I can. I am better than I once was.

I’m a much more compassionate person these days, caring for a family does that to you! I have more empathy for others than I once had. I don’t think I realised how useful a skill this would be in the workplace. I am better than I once was.

I always said that I loved my job – I always believed that. But now that I do other stuff in between, I really love my job. Those few days of absence makes it all the better to get back to. That extra bit of happiness makes me extra productive. I am better than I once was.

I’m lucky to have the job I have. As I ‘ve said, those exciting, challenging, skills enhancing jobs are few and far between in the part time arena.

I know I’m incredibly fortunate, I know I work for an amazing business with an amazing team of people. I’m grateful and that gives me the motivation to go the extra mile. I am better than I once was.

So in some ways, I’m not what an employer wants – I’m not there 5 days a week. But I’m available 5 days a week (or 6 or 7). Today’s technology makes it even easier to be away from the office. Telephone calls and emails still happen on non-working days as sometimes, you just want to resolve something. Being part time doesn’t have to stop that.

I’m still a professional, I still work hard, I still develop my skills and learn new ones. I still love my job and care about the business I work for. I’m still flexible, I switch my working days here and there, I accommodate meetings to ease others’ diaries. I just cannot be flexible enough to give all my time.

I accept that some businesses will only want employees who are in the office every day – always there, on call for any emergency. But I hope there are still plenty of other businesses who realise that us part time workers can still add value.

Being part time is different. Not necessarily better, not necessarily worse – just different.

Sarah Hawthorne ACMA
Financial Controller – Wagstaff Recruitment
Mom to Alice aged 6
Daughter to “Mum and Boss” aged 76
Wife to Simon aged 49 ¾

From the other side of the fence

Wagstaff Recruitment started as a bedroom business. As the owner I drove business through sales and cajoled my husband to do my monthly management accounts on a weekend. Hubby was great, he is an experienced Finance Director, but I became spoilt with his extensive knowledge and skills.

As the company grew, I took on offices and developed a team I knew I needed my own Finance Manager and here lay the problem. Due to hubby’s skill, my expectation of what a Finance Manager could do was unachievable on a part time basis, or so I was told (by external applicants). I wanted someone who could be part of our leadership team. Someone who had great management accounts skills. Someone who was confident to upwardly manage and challenge me. Basically I wanted a high level Finance Manager on a part time basis for an SME and they did not exist. Well they do!!

Then, through a fellow finance recruiter, I was introduced to Sarah! I gained an experienced, skilled professional who has the talent to utilise her skills. Sarah manages her time so well, delegating to our admin support team where needed and delivering a valuable, high quality finance service. I get great finance and management support and it is on a part time basis. The truth is hiring this talent is achievable it just may not be in the convectional way you expect. (I also don’t feel Sarah is part time as she is so flexible and there for me if I really do need her).

I would applaud any business to really consider part-time experienced workers. Finance, Marketing, Engineering, the list can go on! The experience and skill they bring, in my experience, is certainly added value.

Ruth Forster
Founding Director – Wagstaff Recruitment
Mum to Lexi (Our dog! No little people!)