It came as no surprise to me (and other women I know) when recent studies indicated that working mums experience up to 40% more stress than others in the workplace. Personally – I am pretty sure there are dads out there feeling this too… but I digress! This statistic got me thinking about my experience of work and being a parent.

As a new 1st time mum with crippling post natal depression I was ‘made’ to take my maternity leave in the first few months of my daughter’s life. My husband was also ‘made’ to take his paternity leave in the first few weeks of her life. And guess what – during my years as a HR professional I ‘made’ other new parents go through that same process for maternity, paternity and adoption leave – because the statutory guidance decrees it ‘should be so’. And now it leaves me with one big question – WHY?

  • WHY do we ‘make’ staff take mat/pat/adoption leave in the first few weeks/ months? (Spoiler alert – babies can be a bit boring at that age!)
  • WHY do we (as employers) always believe that we have to lose our people at a specific moment in time (when we might really want/ need them)?
  • WHY don’t we trust ourselves to come up with an individualised plan that meets everyone’s needs more effectively?

What would your staff think and feel about you as an employer if you really designed policies that treat people as adults? And offer them one of the most powerful things a human can have – choice.

Change and OD is about the whole system – shifting the ‘hard stuff’ like HR policies alongside developmental interventions to drive culture and business performance. So, before you buy an off-the shelf HR policy, why not have a conversation about pushing boundaries that were never really boundaries in the first place. And ask yourself one question – WHY?

If you’d like to share your thoughts and/ or start a conversation about this – please drop me a line via Linked-In or

Thanks for reading!