Thursday 4 September 2014

The value of my career break

Guest Blog by Lorraine Dyer

I recently returned to the ‘world of work’ after a year off for maternity leave. Instead of returning to my previous paid employed position, I took the brave decision to be self-employed. I started my own business as a HR Consultant and Trainer.

Recently I was asked how things were going with my new venture and my response was “really good.” This prompted a conversation about what was different or what were the challenges about returning to work.

What skills or attributes have I gained whilst on maternity leave and how do these enable me to be more effective in the work place?

Calm under pressure

I have learnt to be calmer in a crisis. When problems arise I am able to take a step back and look at the solutions before taking decisive action. When you find yourself entirely responsible for a baby, you cannot ignore problems and hope they go away. With a child this ultimately could mean life or death! You have to remain calm, find a solution and respond. So in the workplace I am better equipped to put problems into perspective and calm my colleague or client so they are confident we can solve the crisis together.


When you have a one year old who repeatedly hangs on the blinds, pulls the entire contents out of the kitchen cupboards or climbs up the furniture, you learn patience! This has given me more patience for colleagues and their problems. I now take more time to explain things, understanding that we can see things from a different perspective and recognising that clients may need more time to make a decision.

Asking for Help

Before my son arrived I read numerous baby books, joined websites and baby forums, but I learnt very quickly that, however much you think you know about raising a child, you need to ask for help. So I have learnt that it is always okay to ask for help. Even as an HR expert, laws and practices change. You are more effective if you look up an answer or speak to a colleague to then give the best customer service to a client.


I have gained more confidence when meeting new people. When you have a baby, a whole new world of playgroups, ‘rhyme-time’ and ‘clap and sing with baby’ sessions open up to you! I would meet several new mums (and dads) with babies every week. This helped me to be proactive with new people and has given me more confidence to network and meet new clients for the first time.


Overall, my experience of maternity leave has given me more personal confidence and a self-belief that I can achieve. If you can raise a child (when you have no idea if you are doing it right!), then you can achieve what you set your mind to. If you don’t succeed, the worse that can happen is that you learn from the experience and try again.

In summary, from my time away from work on maternity leave, some of the skills and attributes I have gained are: being calmer in a crisis; patience; to ask for help; confidence in meeting new people; and, in general, greater personal confidence and self-belief.

For personal development I can recommend maternity or paternity leave (with the change in the law men should take this as a positive opportunity for personal growth). Alternatively, take a career break to go travelling or take time off for volunteer work.

Companies will see the added value this personal development brings to their business when the employee returns to the work place.

Call Lorraine Dyer for your Human Resources & Training solutions, T: 07855 852218

Lorraine Dyer
HR Consultant & Trainer
Mobile: 07855 852218
Twitter: @LorraineDyer14
Linkedin: Lorraine Dyer

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