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How Broadspectrum supports mothers returning to the workplace

Broadspectrum is a leading provider of services to major projects and infrastructure across diverse industries; they design, fund, construct, operate and maintain assets. As part of the Ferrovial Services company, an organization that provides end-to-end solutions for infrastructure and cities, they have over 79,000 employees across 10 countries.

The company is focused on offering their staff challenging and long-term careers in a supportive, diverse and rewarding environment. Broadspectrum provides a range of impressive benefits including tailored learning and development opportunities, paid parental leave and flexible work solutions.

We had the opportunity to speak with Shelley Folkard, Group Marketing & Communications Manager, to discuss her journey and experience when returning from parental leave.

1. Tell us about yourself. 

I have been employed through Easternwell (a subsidiary or Broadspectrum) for 11 years. During my employment I have taken parental leave twice; in 2013 and 2016. Each time, I had approximately nine months at home with my baby before returning to work. I have to say having a baby shifted my life’s priorities and, while work was still important to me, it was more important that I spend these precious first months getting to know the new little person in my life. Even with the support of my husband, returning to work felt very overwhelming, especially combined with my new responsibilities as a mother.

2. Did your role change at all upon your return?

I was fortunate that I could return to work in the same role on both occasions. I did return to changes within the company, for example organisational restructure, different managers and new processes, which I needed to understand and adapt to in my existing role.

3. Explain the transition from maternity leave into the workplace. What were your biggest challenges?

Returning to work after the birth of both my children felt like the first day of school all over again! It helped that I returned to a role that I was familiar with, but it was still challenging understanding and adapting to the changes within the company that had occurred during my maternity leave. I returned to my existing role in a part-time capacity, so I had to work out how best to manage my time to continue to deliver what was expected of the role within reduced hours.

4. How was Broadspectrum supportive with this transition? Explain.

Broadspectrum supported me by providing flexible work arrangements. When I first returned from maternity leave, I worked a three-day or 24-hour week, building up to a four-day or 32-hour week, which allowed me to spend more time with my children in their early years. This year, I am working a 24-hour week across four days, which will allow me to drop off and pick up my eldest child, who is commencing his first year at school.

5. What flexible work practices do Broadspectrum offer return to work mothers?

Broadspectrum’s Flexible Policy is making it more acceptable for employees to challenge the traditional 9am–5pm workday. It is becoming more accepted within the company that flexible work practices support a positive culture, especially for working mothers who have increased commitments outside of the company that inevitably come with having a family.

6. Which benefit/s have best supported you personally in your return to work?

I received four weeks paid parental leave upon return to my role which supported me financially when I returned to work. I also received flexibility around my working hours which supported me in my transition back into the workforce. The option to return to my role in a part-time capacity has allowed me to be more present for my children while continuing my career.

7. Describe a typical day in the office.

The thing I like most about my role is that no two days are the same. I am fortunate that I get to work with lots of people from different parts of the company, sharing good news stories, developing marketing campaigns and building closer connections with our communities. For me, working part-time reconfigures how I approach my workday to ensure I am working as efficiently as possible with the time I have in the office.

8. How does this flexibility positively impact your life?

Flexibility at work has helped me manage the tremendous responsibility of becoming a mother. It is far broader than traditional formal working arrangements, and it is not just for working mothers. I believe flexibility in the workplace supports mental health and encourages employees to think about how flexible work arrangements can support their priorities in life.

9. Do you feel women are more likely to commit to a company long term that offers flexible work arrangements?

I appreciate access to flexible work arrangements, and I believe it is important to promote flexible work arrangements to all employees to encourage a sustainable approach to working life. Flexible work arrangements are a great benefit, but it is just as important for employees to feel connected to the company through the culture, purpose and values.

10. What would be one piece of advice you would give to another mum returning to work post baby?

Don’t feel pressured to rush back to work and negotiate a flexible working arrangement that works for you and your family. There may be some trial and error until you find a routine that works for you, and the company, but know that you will find a way to manage life as a mother with a career.

Visit https://www.workingmothersconnect.com.au/broadspectrum/ to learn more about Broadspectrum, their benefits and current opportunities.

Photo by Lucy Sheedy