A member on your team lets you know the happy news that there will be a new addition to their family. There’s excitement, happiness, and congratulations! Shortly after, worry may set in for you as a leader because you’re immediately thinking about what you will do to fill the gap while they are gone. Many employers face this challenge and our team is no exception. I value the supportive and transparent approach that our team has taken with one of my colleagues, and when I made my own announcement earlier this year leading up to my parental leave transition. Being both an employee and an owner in this situation, I have had the opportunity to see this from two perspectives as I approach this upcoming leave.
Here are some options to consider and important things to remember when a member of your team announces they will be going on parental leave.
Options as a Leader:
- Hire full-time – This might be a great opportunity to assess your team’s capacity and future through a new role. It may or may not be an exact duplication of the person’s position who is going on leave but posting a full-time position will allow you a greater opportunity to attract different candidates.
- Hire temporarily – Term roles can be challenging to fill, but you may get lucky. If you feel like you do not have significant choice in the job market at the time of your search, look internally where possible if your organization is large enough to create a term position from another department. This could be a great way to allow someone to grow, gain temporary capacity on your team with someone who already knows your company and then return to their previous position without having to go through a lengthy hiring process.
- Hire a co-op student – Are there key points in the year where you will feel the pinch? Choose these timeframes to get some extra help. You may also find that this is a great opportunity to test out the success of a new position and connect with a great future candidate for when you are looking to hire full time down the road.
- Disperse duties within the team – In some situations it would take too long to onboard and get someone up to speed. Determine where it makes sense to overlap client/customer relationships and project requirements so that you can seamlessly transition someone into and back from leave.
Caring for your Employee:
It’s important as the employer to understand your employment standards obligations. It’s just as important to ensure your employee going on leave understands your organization’s policies regarding leaves and any logistics that may come into play, such as things like benefits continuation and payments surrounding their leave.
In any staffing decisions you make to cover a leave, you will also want to ensure proper transition occurs and assess back up plans. This may come in the form of extended on the job training led by the employee where there is some overlap with the new hire, detailed documentation and client/customer transitions.
To achieve a successful entrance into this leave period, have open conversations with your employee about their plans: when they will begin their leave, how long it will be (12 vs 18 months) and what their thoughts are following their return. Having touch points throughout their leave is also important to understand if plans are changing and to keep in contact. This will also help you plan ahead if they are requesting a reduced work week when they return. You may even invite them to come to employee events as appropriate.
Above all, make them feel safe. Entering a new life phase and going on leave has a whole host of exciting and mixed emotions. As a leader this is a key moment where you need to step up and demonstrate your care towards your employee’s personal and professional health. Set your business and your employee up for success by keeping open communication and letting the employee know they are an important part of your team going forward.
Jaysa Toet is a Partner at Acuity HR Solutions. For more content and blogs from the Acuity team visit our Spotlight page and follow us on Instagram and Facebook!