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Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

5 Tips for Returning to Work after Parental Leave

At Gartner, we encourage our associates to find a balance between their work life and their personal life. As such, we offer generous benefits to ensure that they feel empowered to succeed in their personal and professional lives.

Are you looking to return to work after taking parental leave? Reentering the workforce after taking time off can be challenging regardless of the reason or length of time that you were out of the office. In fact, almost thirty percent of women who do not have access to PTO after giving birth drop out of the workforce after one year. This exemplifies the difficulties that new parents may face as they reenter the workforce and illustrates the importance of having a generous parental leave policy at companies. At Gartner, we know how important this time is, which is why we continue to enhance our offerings to ensure that associates have the support and benefits they need to successfully reenter the workforce after taking parental leave.

Read on to discover actionable advice on how to navigate returning to work from Mary McCollum, Senior Recruiter, who recently reentered the workforce after taking parental leave. 

Prioritize what you need to catch up on. What I’ve found is that it’s best to start with the big picture. Catch up on what has happened with your company as a whole, then move on to understanding how your direct role and your team has been impacted.  From there, you can start adding meetings to your calendar, taking on projects, and getting back to your new day-to-day. 

Build a Support System.  Identify people around you that can help support you when called upon. Within your organization, this can be your HR Partners, management, peers, and Employee Resource Groups. One of the many things I’ve learned in my transition back from parental leave is the power of your community. You’re not alone, and working for an organization like Gartner that goes out of its way to make sure you feel supported, is paramount.  Know it’s okay (and highly encouraged!) to ask for help. 

Make a plan. Work with your manager to help you list out your priorities and goals for your first weeks and months back. Understand the changes that have impacted your organization, your team, and your role, and structure a plan around that.  Know what your new workday will look like and calendar everything to help you map out your transition back visually. 

Be confident in returning back to your role as a valuable part of your organization.  

My mantra in recent months is “you can do hard things”.  Whether you are returning to work from maternity or paternity leave, after caring for a sick loved one, recovering from an injury, or taking a sabbatical: you have survived and learned from something difficult and will be a better professional because of it. Life experience – both positive and negative – is just as influential and impactful as experience gained in the boardroom or classroom.  

Take time for YOU.  Carve out 30 minutes to do something that helps you reset your mind and stay motivated. This could be exercise, reading, journaling, listening to a podcast, taking the dog for a walk. I’ve picked up running this past year and it’s been my nonnegotiable ‘me’ time.  Block it out on your calendar and commit to it just as you would if you had a meeting with leadership.  YOU are important and having that time for personal reflection and inspiration will benefit you and the work you. 

Are you looking to reenter the workforce? Discuss your strategy in the comments below and discover opportunities at Gartner here.