Why I found our company newsletter so helpful during my maternity leave
— March 31st, 2021
It's the last day of March 2021 and I find myself, once again, about to go on maternity leave.
Like so many others, I have joined the “COVID Baby Club” and am expecting my second child in April.
And, even though I look forward to taking time away from work to look after my family, it feels like it was just yesterday that I was returning from maternity leave.
Perhaps that is not too surprising considering I returned to work in January 2020, just a couple of short months before Covid-19 sent everyone home to work from their kitchen tables.
Looking back, it struck me just how important our company newsletter and other internal updates were to me during that period of transition - although I didn't quite see it at the time.
The first thing that I recall is feeling like a stranger in a familiar place. The front door was still in the same place and the carpet hadn't changed, yet I didn’t quite know where I was. While I had been out of the office, people that I knew well and worked closely with had moved on, and new faces had arrived.
Some of the usual priorities and challenges remained, but there were also a lot of new projects and areas of focus that weren’t even on my radar before I left to take my leave.
Even though I knew what my job was. I wasn't sure if I still fit. This of course is where having a good manager and supportive team is important.
But it wasn't just the people within my immediate work circle that helped me reconnect my role to the overall purpose; it was also through our newsletter and other internal updates.
7 Steps to creating great employee newsletters
Through these communications, I was able to hear first-hand, from senior leadership themselves, what was happening across the business.
It gave me the opportunity to catch up on our wellness and sustainability programs, reminded me of my healthcare and other benefits which I had half-forgotten about and, last but not least, kept me informed of everything happening with our Sports and Social.
All of this helped me to reconnect the dots and rediscover my place in the team. But, it wasn't long before we all switched to remote work.
This is where internal communications really stepped up and made a difference. At Poppulo, we switched to daily communication, The Daily Buzz newsletter.
This increased frequency was welcomed – even though usually people want fewer emails! Receiving the “Daily Buzz” in my inbox each morning was a consistent reminder that I was not working alone even though I was in the home office on my own.
With content varying from wellbeing and must-know information to puzzles and riddles, it helped strengthen the connection I had begun to rebuild.
Rediscovering existing relationships and creating new ones is a key part of returning from maternity leave.
Through our internal updates, I was kept informed about who was leaving and who was joining; it helped me discover who I needed to schedule a video chat with. Of course, it wasn’t the same as canteen conversations and casual introductions, but that doesn’t undermine just how valuable it was.
Returning from maternity leave has its highs and lows. I feel it’s different to being a new hire because there are always a couple of questions lurking in the back of your mind. “What has changed?”, “What information am I missing?”, “Does my role still matter?”. “Do I still matter?”
These are just some of the things we need to work through when returning from maternity leave, or any other form of medium-long term absence.
Everything that helps to reconnect with the company, the people, and the culture increases the chances of it being a successful transition. Internal communications help to build that connection.
I wonder if I will still be writing from the nome office when I return this time. Certainly, it will be challenging again but at least I know I'm not working alone.