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Managers, culture & mental load – top themes from our Parental Awareness workshops

Written by Dr Emma Waltham | Parental Returners Expert


Returning Works® online parental awareness workshops have been incredibly popular this year. Over the past six months, we’ve delivered training for clients in sectors including higher education, finance, engineering and construction, covering topics such as boundary setting in the workplace, maternity bias and parental allyship. We also hosted a special Women in Engineering Day session for UK Power Networks.


The companies we work with have been delighted with our training sessions, and we are already taking bookings for the autumn. In this blog, I’ll be exploring the common themes that come up in our workshops and why they deliver for our clients.


Returning Works’ training really help to broaden the conversation within our senior leadership team and help us understand how we can take those next steps. Our team have all gone away with practical ideas for how they can contribute towards helping their female colleagues develop their careers, and the role our leaders can play in fostering a culture of allyship and understanding. Parental Allyship workshop delegate, Great Western Railway

Take a look at our case studies to see how we’re helping our clients re-engage and retain their returning parents.


An easy way to make a big difference

So, why are our workshops so popular? Organisations book our parental awareness sessions because they are:

  • Practical – our sessions last around two hours, are easy to set up, delivered online and can be recorded for future access.

  • Proactive – we make sure that all attendees leave the training with a clear, easy to implement action plan based on our best-practice parental framework so they can start becoming active allies to returning parents.

  • Conversation-starting – clients tell us that our workshops are a great way to start conversation and get people talking in an open, non judgemental environment.

  • Inclusive – our sessions are inclusive and everyone is welcome to contribute.


The effects of maternity will impact us all in a work setting and Emma was inclusive in her approach, ensuring that I, as a man without any children, felt like an active ally. EDI Manager, General Dental Council

Book a call and let’s start a conversation about parental allyship at your organisation.


Broadening the conversation: key themes

Because our attendees feel comfortable and able to contribute without judgement, we can address important topics openly and honestly. Themes that frequently arise include:


Managers - Participants often comment that working parents’ experiences at work are dependant on their line manager, with the need for more consistency in line managers’ knowledge, training and approach.


Mental load – We share some eye-opening stats about the mental load and distribution of life admin and chores at home.


Bias and assumptions – We address the need to treat returning parents as individuals, and the importance of avoiding assumptions – no matter how well intentioned.


Operational and front-line roles – Many of our clients have staff in front-line roles, where there are limitations on flexibility for returning parents. We explore what these employers can do to support their returning parents.


Company culture – Changes to company culture, such as normalising family and child-care commitments and supporting co-parenting fathers.


Policies – The importance of consistently implementing family-friendly policies, while avoiding a ‘one size fits all’ approach.


Having Emma talk to us has elicited a really strong response, with dozens of people wanting access to the recording. Thanks to this session we have some of the tools we need to help create an empathetic, supportive and inclusive working culture. Respect & Inclusion Lead, Housing21


Become a family-friendly employer of choice

Our parental awareness training sessions are a fantastic way to foster an inclusive, family-friendly culture at your organisation.


Take the first step to becoming an employer of choice for working parents; drop me a message and let’s start a conversation about how a Returning Works® workshop can help your organisation re-engage and retain your working parents.

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