Corporate culture does not allow for talented women to return to the workplace or continue to operate effectively in the workplace whilst managing their domestic responsibilities. This is directly influencing the retention and progression into senior positions of female talent (Baggallay, 2011). While the above statement may be a narrow view considering shifts in many companies' policies aimed at supporting work-family balance, working mothers still have many concerns. Some of these concerns have been highlighted by the participants in this study, and confirm the need to better understand the challenges faced by female employees returning to work after maternity leave. The primary purpose of this study is to identify common themes arising from South African female employees' experience of returning to work following maternity, and to ultimately gain an understanding of the interests of both mothers in the workplace and employers looking to retain and nurture top female talent. The results of this study revealed that, despite viewing work positively, the participants found that returning to work after childbirth was difficult. A significant change in the attitudes of the participants towards their careers after childbirth was also found. This change is not necessarily negative and should not be interpreted as an indication of employees' loss of interest in their careers; it does, however, highlight the need for adequate management of the "workplace pregnancy" to ensure that female employees return to work. Employers who are open to the evolution of best practice for maternity leave, the management of family responsibilities, and striking a balance between employee productivity and fulfilment will position themselves as an employer of choice, thereby attracting high-calibre talent.
Dissertation (MCom)--University of Pretoria, 2013.