How to retain parents after parental leave

From excellent handovers to effective re-entry strategies

In a 2019 survey by service provider Workplace Options 23% of employed parents indicated that they had at some point considered giving up their job – due to incompatibility with childcare. Women made this indication three times as often as men.

In times of demographic change and skilled labor shortage, organizations depend on the skills and the labor that employees who are parents can bring to the table. It is even more fatal for organizations to lose members of their workforce in the context of parental leave.

Parental leave

But how can we strengthen employees’ ties to the organization? With clear-cut planning and by specifying an in-house concept for parental leave, you can provide guidance for HR managers and other responsible leaders. Your organization’s parental leave concept might cover the following points:

Before parental leave

Provide information about your organization’s support options

  • Do you offer extended paid parental leave, e.g., extending the legally required minimum duration or payment?
  • Do you offer a variety of work time models like flextime, part-time, job sharing or remote work?
  • Do you have an in-house daycare center – or do you support employees in finding a suitable day care?
  • Is there a breastfeeding room or any other quiet space where nursing mothers can retreat to?
  • Do you offer paid sick leave for children?
  • Do you support young families with single or multiple family bonuses?
  • Do you enable parent groups, offline or online, e.g., via Slack?

Initiate a well-organized handover in good time

  • Involve the person who is going into parental leave during the training of their substitute.
  • If a successor or replacement has yet to be found, involve the employee in question throughout the recruiting process.
  • Develop a handover plan with the employee that includes timing, to-do’s, responsible parties, and lines of communication.

Consider re-entry before parental leave:

Preparing an individual re-entry strategy early on might seem laborious, however your organization will benefit from it: Studies have shown that the probability of re-entry into the workforce diminishes when parents leave their job for more than a year.

  • Develop an individual re-entry strategy in good time. Volunteer Vision’s online mentoring program ‘eParent’ provides you with ideal support for this process: Mentors and mentees discuss various aspects of compatibility of professional life and family life in 8 digital sessions of 60 minutes. Mentors are experienced employees who have gone through the process of establishing such compatibility themselves. Mentees are employees who are expecting a baby. The sessions cover, among other topics:
    • success factors of re-entry strategies
    • preparation for potentially critical situations with colleagues and superiors
    • personal expectations regarding re-entry
    • support options by the employer
    • possible and preferred work (time) models
    • exchange of one’s own experience with childcare

leaves for parents

During parental leave

  • Does your organization offer skill development courses for employees to expand their qualifications during their time of absence?
  • What kind of communication does the employee desire during their time of absence? While some still want to participate in virtual team meetings, others prefer to be apprised via online spreadsheets with key points on current projects.

After parental leave

  • Organize a small-scale re-onboarding: This could either be executed by the employee’s substitute or by several team members.
  • Go over potentially critical situations with the employee before they occur. What happens when the child gets sick unexpectedly? Who can fill in in case of emergency? How to deal with travel activities?
  • Actively support employees with the management of their new life situation, e.g. by purposefully building resilience. In a 2019 job market survey by Robert Half, 700 HR managers were asked about the most relevant professional skills in upcoming years. 33% of them listed resilience at peak-relevance. Therefore, Volunteer Vision’s online mentoring program ‘eParent’ also includes a session on resilience.

About Volunteer Vision‘s eParent Program

Volunteer Vision’s digital mentoring program ‘eParent’ provides a reliable framework for mentors and mentees. Both meet on a regular basis and work on issues that the mentor has experience with. The impact of the programs:

  • 72% higher retention rates for mentees and 69 % for mentors – compared to 49 % for non-participating employees.
  • 68% of mentors are more satisfied with their work since participating in the online mentoring program.
  • 82% of participants report positive impact of the program on gender balance.

If you want to learn more about Volunteer Vision’s online mentoring software or about the ‘eParent’ program in particular, click here to book a brief consultation meeting with them. Or you can watch their product demo here.


Anna Berenbrinker
DE&I Expert and Content Marketing Manager at Volunteer Vision. With a background in psychology and HR management, Anna's expertise lies in challenging and elevating the business world to become a more inclusive and diverse version of itself.

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