Face-lifting the Maternity Policy at Knoldus Inc

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To most organizations, it has been a challenge to retain the female employees who avail of the maternity benefits (going on leaves for six months) and do not join back the organization. Companies also struggle to fill the talent gaps in the event when their female employees go on maternity leave as the work gets distributed among the existing team members, who had to invest extra time, effort, and resources for the duration. Though organizations value gender diversity and they take many measures to encourage the diversity ratio. However, as per one of the reports from ET, the biggest concern most managers (95 percent) have is that if an employee announces her pregnancy then how to build an alternate resource equivalent in talent to fill in for her temporary absence from the workplace. This has remained an oxymoron statement and a catch-22 situation for many organizations!

The concerning issue!

At Knoldus, the situation was no different. However, the real challenge was with the female employees not returning to the workplace post maternity leave. The trend created a strong perception of attrition the moment a maternity announcement was made by any employee. The Management team along with the People & Culture team tried to take multiple measures to encourage the employee to join back. However, nothing worked! 

Our discovery

The People & Culture team made some past discoveries to find the reasons why none of our female employees joined back. They evaluated the past performance of the female ex-employees using data, spoke to their respective managers, and also connected with the ex-employees. After the past discoveries, the team brainstormed on ‘What is the missing link that influences the employees not to join back’. The team also looked at human emotions and also evaluated the ways the organization creates an emotional attachment for the employees. Our discovery had flavours of enlightenment and it unfolded many gaps relating to the bridge that connects one human to another.

An employee, while working, is regularly engaged in the organization through work and its cultural initiatives. The instance a female employee goes on maternity leave, this engagement bridge immediately falls down. During this period, the organization is not connected with the employee in any way or in any form. The bridge of engagement falls and corrodes as time crawl into days and months. During this time period, the employee is connected only with her immediate family members. 

As humans, we always build various kind of bridges that influence our decision which is always based on the cohesiveness of the bridge. The less cohesive the bridge, the more will be the deflection, and the less significant the bridge becomes in life. This was exactly what was happening. Throughout the leave tenure, the employee was not connected with the organization, hence the bridge that connected an employee with the organization corroded with time and became less significant. After the birth of the new-born, the priorities change for the female employee and they keep themselves engaged in taking care of the new-born. After the maternity leaves come to an end, they always ponder on how they will be able to invest 8-9 hours at work and also be able to take care of their new-born simultaneously. This question leads to doubt, and the doubt takes the form of an impossible challenge that cannot be triumphed. During this episode, the employee evaluates the bridges, especially the one that connects the organization. As the bridge was corroded and hence was less significant, the decision becomes easy and clear!

Our unique approach – Ubuntu! ‘Sharing is caring’

One of the core values at Knoldus is based on ‘Ubuntu’ which allows us to nurture cohesiveness among team members, build higher collaboration among teams, and amplify the calibration among demographics. We redefined our Maternity Policy keeping the principles of Ubuntu (I am because we are) and introduced initiatives that allowed us to keep the bridge between the female employee and the organization well-calibrated & fine-tuned throughout the leave period. We reflected a culture of ‘We Care’ in our approach to value our maternity cases. Under the umbrella of the new initiative, the following initiatives were taken for ‘Post Maternity’ and ‘During Maternity’ period:

  1. Monthly one connect with the Manager: The manager would connect with the employee once a month (during the maternity period) and enquires about the health and well-being of the employee.
  2. Monthly one connect with the People & Culture team: The P&C team will connect with the employee once every month (during the maternity period) to discuss health and well-being.
  3. Sharing health tips regularly: The P&C team would share the health tips with the employee that are important for the mother and baby.

This ensured that the organization is connected with the employee and demonstrates care! This approach allowed us to hold the connectivity bridge firm and inspirational. As part of the next steps, we also introduced an inventive initiative to help the female employee to create a sustainable balance between work and life. As maternity is a life-changing event in lives of the female employees, we cannot expect 100% work deliveries immediately after the employee joins the organization back. This is because of the new and important priority in life – the new-born baby, whom we take pride in calling ‘Little Knolder’. Hence, we introduced flexible work timing for the employee once she resumes work. 

1st Week: 2 Hours of work only

2nd Week: 4 Hours of work only

3rd Week: 6 hours of work only

4th Week onward: 8 hours of work

The flexible work timings allowed the female employee to gradually absorb the work, focus & care for her new-born, and become efficient in managing the work, family, and time.

The impact

The face-lifting was phenomenal. The employees welcomed the new change wholeheartedly. The bridge became inspiring and magnificent for them and the organization leading to higher trust and faith. The attrition remarkably got reduced to NIL. The first success seemed to be luck, the second success showered confidence in the revised policy, and the subsequent successes further glorified the face-lifting!

What do our Knolders say?

The journey continued and brought flavors of higher trust and cohesiveness to the organization. Our female employees started to share their voices and experiences on how the revised policy structure helped them strengthen their pillars of trust and faith. Some would say it could be a miracle. However, we at Knoldus will say “Because we care – Ubuntu”

Written by 

Jony Mandal has over 15 years of experience in the Learning and Organization Development (L&OD) domain. He has an in-depth passion for driving organizational growth through various signature L&D programs. Armed with Gallup's key strengths (Strategic, Achiever, Self Assurance, Competition, and Maximiser), Jony has been the key anchor to carve out the best of employees and organizations. On the personal front, he loves to play guitar and be associated with music.

1 thought on “Face-lifting the Maternity Policy at Knoldus Inc5 min read

  1. I can’t speak to the details, but I think it is pretty neat that you are putting this topic and material out there for a broader audience to peruse. Kudos to you.

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