We talk to Simon Gregory – recruitment specialist working with parents returning to work, promoting diversity & inclusion.
Simon has 16 years recruitment experience in SE Asia and UK. After a long stint in Singapore & Malaysia he decided to raise a family back in the UK. He quickly become disappointed in the UK recruitment market as it seemed more concerned about money then changing people’s lives. Simon bravely decided to go at it alone and launch a business with the moral ethos he believed in and started GPS 2016.
The return to work tension
His wife Miranda wanted to return to work in 2017, which he says was met with a lot of prejudice and was even told by a recruiter at the time that she wouldn’t be able to get a job because she had a child.
Simons GPS group setup GPS Return www.gpsreturn.co.uk in April 2017 with a focus on people looking to return to work after some time out raising a family. In 2018 it became clear that this was a big growth area and the GPS group focussed solely on this with its aim to focus on the parent narrative, which includes dads. At the time most of existing conversation was mum focussed.
“There are close to 500,000 full-time Mums and Dads currently thinking about returning to work but are unsure how to go about it or are not getting the support they need from recruiters to help them return to work.”
We interviewed Simon about his experience as a dad and the challenges he has faced in this space. Here is what he had to say;
Returning to work after paternity leave can be a psychological struggle. What can employers practically do to make this transition easier?
Generally speaking, Dads face a very different challenge to Mums returning to work. Whereas we find it easier to return, it is often harder to get the flexibility we need. So to begin with
- Companies need to get on board with offering flexible work options.
- There are significant advantages to staff motivation, productivity and profitability when this is done right.
- Understanding that working compressed hours, reduced hours or from home does not make that individual any less worth-while.
- Teams that this person is working with should be educated about this.
- Be aware that work-place ‘banter’ can become bullying and discrimination very quickly. A lot of that depends on how the leadership team deals with it.
- As a dad returning to work don’t be afraid to speak to your manager or to the HR team if you think the ‘banter’ is going too far.
New dads may want to work more flexibly and spend less time at work, but so many still feel guilty about this, or worry that it will negatively impact their career? How do they overcome this?
By taking action. Speak to your company about your career goals and make it clear to them that even though you have restructured your week you still aspire to grow and develop.
Get a clear career growth plan from them. This means setting targets and objectives for promotion and this will create something you can refer back to. It also demonstrates to your employer that your head is still firmly in the game.
Since returning have your colleagues treated you any differently?
I’ve heard stories from many dads about how work life has changed since working flexibly. Most of the time they start with:
“It was weird to begin with, but people quickly got used to my hours and it actually encouraged more Dads to make the same move”.
Really it is down to you to show that you are still there to do a great job. Also that you are still the same person and things will quickly settle down.
How has your work/life balance changed?
For starters, I am more present at home. The school run and the kids bath time-bedtime parts of the day have become sacred and the work-calls get ignored.
Afterall, I can always call them back, and my relationship with my children have significantly improved. We understand each other better, and that makes a huge difference to them and to me.
I hear this story on regular basis from the dads that we have helped return to work and achieve flexibility and, mostly, we are surprised by the huge impact having an extra hour a day with the children has. And we love it.