Becoming a new parent can be stressful enough without having to worry about who is going to be covering your desk and work load while you’re out on maternity leave. Although experiences vary depending on your position and company, planning your leave can be one the biggest stressors you’ll encounter while preparing for your baby’s arrival. Not only do you want to prep for a successful leave from work, but also for a successful return.
In order to make this transition as smooth as possible, there are a few key things to keep in mind.
- Try to keep your employers needs in mind before you leave and help prepare them. The more you prepare everyone else, the less worried you will be about your work while you’re out. Do you need a replacement? Are there projects that need to be put on hold? Does work need to be outsourced? Who will manage your direct reports? Depending on your position, it may be helpful to work directly with your manager to develop a game plan. Be as thorough as possible, take the time to go over your core responsibilities and how each of those tasks are going to be divided and who is best suited for each role.
- Set expectations on when and if you are going to check-in or others are going to check-in with you. Although many people don’t often work during their leave, if you expect that you may, set those expectations with your team or clients right away. Times that you will be available or checking emails, or days when you may be accessible via phone/text. Coming back to work and trying to get caught up on 3-4 months of emails can be tough, so setting up a once a week debrief can be beneficial to some. If you’re in a role where you are able to completely disconnect during your time off, it can still important to set those expectations with your team. Communicating that you will not be checking emails on leave will give you less stressful time off, and your employees the ability to plan accordingly.
- Lastly, be sure to tie up as many loose ends with as many projects, clients and accounts as possible before hand. Now that your boss and co-workers know you will be out, it may be beneficial to fill in your clients, vendors or accounts too. If it is appropriate to your work and industry, fill in those necessary folks, and make sure you’ve given them the information needed on who they will be dealing with in your absence. No one that you speak with on a regular basis wants to call one day only to be blindsided by an “I’ll be out of the office the next 3 months” message. Pass the torch to others if needed and tie up those loose ends.
Don’t forget, communicate your needs and plans clearly, and be sure to thank those who helped out and covered along the way.