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Before You Engage a Coach for Your Maternity Returners – Read This!

The transition back to work after maternity leave is a critical period for new mothers and their employers. The organisation plays a pivotal role in facilitating this transition, ensuring it is as smooth and supportive as possible. One effective strategy, increasingly being adopted, is maternity return coaching. If this is something you’re considering, before you engage a coach for your maternity returners, there are several important factors to consider to ensure this investment yields the best possible outcomes for both employees and the organisation.

Understanding Maternity Return Coaching

Maternity return coaching is a specialized service designed to support employees returning to work after maternity leave. These coaches assist new mothers in navigating the challenges of reintegration into the workplace, balancing their new responsibilities at home with their professional roles, and managing the range of emotions that often accompany this significant life change.

The Business Case for Maternity Return Coaching

1. Retention and Engagement

Research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) highlights that organisations that provide robust support for maternity returners see higher retention rates. Given the cost of replacing an employee can be as high as six to nine months of the position’s salary, investing in coaching can be cost-effective in the long run.

2. Employee Well-being

The transition back to work can be stressful for new mothers. According to a survey by Working Families, 43% of mothers reported a negative or very negative impact on their mental health when returning to work. Coaching can mitigate this stress by providing tailored support and coping strategies, enhancing overall well-being.

3. Boosting Productivity

A study by the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) found that employees who received maternity return coaching reported feeling more confident and productive upon their return. This boost in productivity can benefit the entire organisation, contributing to a positive work environment and achieving business goals more effectively.

Key Considerations for Your organisation 

1. Assessing Needs and Objectives

Before engaging a coach, it’s crucial to assess the specific needs of your maternity returners. Conduct surveys or focus groups to understand their concerns and challenges. Establish clear objectives for the coaching program—whether it’s to improve retention, enhance employee well-being, or boost productivity. Align these objectives with broader organisational goals to ensure coherence and measurable outcomes.

2. Selecting the Right Coach

Not all coaches are created equal. When selecting a maternity return coach, consider the following criteria:

  • Experience and Qualifications: Look for coaches with specific experience in maternity return coaching and relevant qualifications such as certifications and accreditation from recognised bodies like the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC). 

  • Cultural Fit: The coach should understand and align with your organizational culture. A good cultural fit ensures that the advice and strategies provided will be practical and applicable within your specific work environment.

  • Track Record: Request testimonials or case studies from previous clients to gauge the coach’s effectiveness and approach.

3. Tailoring the Coaching Program

A one-size-fits-all approach rarely works in coaching. Ensure the coaching program is tailored to meet the diverse needs of your employees. Consider factors such as:

  • Individual Goals: Each employee will have unique goals and challenges. Tailored coaching sessions should address these individual needs.

  • Flexible Scheduling: A regular cadence of sessions may not be practical for some new mothers. Offer flexibility in terms of how often the coaching sessions are scheduled to accommodate this. 

  • Integration with Existing Support Structures: Ensure the coaching program complements existing support structures such as flexible working policies, childcare support, and employee assistance programs.

4. Measuring Impact

To justify the investment in maternity return coaching, it’s essential to measure its impact. Develop key performance indicators (KPIs) to track the success of the program. These might include:

  • Retention Rates: Compare retention rates or wellbeing scores of maternity returners before and after implementing the coaching program.

  • Employee Satisfaction: Conduct surveys to assess satisfaction levels among maternity returners.


Investing in maternity return coaching can yield significant benefits for both employees and organisations. By carefully assessing the needs of your maternity returners, selecting the right coach, tailoring the program, and measuring its impact, you can create a supportive environment that enhances retention, boosts productivity, and promotes employee well-being.

As the workforce continues to evolve, the importance of supporting new mothers cannot be overstated. Maternity return coaching is not just a compassionate initiative—it’s a strategic business decision that can drive long-term success and foster a positive organisational culture. Before you engage a coach for your maternity returners, consider these factors to ensure your investment delivers the best possible outcomes.

We are passionate about supporting women (and all parents) as they navigate the journey to working parenthood. If you would like to find out more about our programmes, please get in touch.

My colleague Sarah Turner and I have been busy creating content highlighting the importance of organisations providing support for working parents. As part of this, we created this video series exploring the entire journey of maternity leave, from before the leave starts, through to preparing to return and then the first few months back at work. If you or your organisation would like to understand more about how to support your employees as they take parental leave, please get in touch.  

This blog post is a collaboration between Maternity Coaches Laura Duggal and Sarah Turner. They are working together, sharing their experiences and bringing the best of their joint advice and knowledge to you.

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