Whether returning to work after maternity leave fills you with excitement or utter dread, making
a smooth transition back into the workplace will help keep the process as stress-free as possible.
Cue KIT Days.
‘KIT Days’ or Keep In Touch Days are an optional, but for many, essential tool in stepping back into
the world of work.
When done well, they allow you to dip your toe back into daily working life, keep up to date with what’s happening in the workplace and for many to ease themselves into new life as a working parent.
So, what makes for a successful KIT Day?
Here we have compiled our Leaders Plus fellows’ top 5 tipsfor making the most of them.
1. Set Yourself a Goal
“My top tip for KIT days is to know what you want to get from it beforehand,” says Cheryl Andani,
Capital Programme Manager at the London Borough of Brent.
“It could be an emotional day so having a goal will help you stay focused on what you want to achieve from your workday.”
Whatever goal you decide to set, this is a great chance to be strategic and give yourself some
thinking space about your return before you get stuck into the day-to-day.
Cheryl continues, “I wish I had been more strategic about my KIT days and for example, used some to reconnect with key people, some to get up to speed on the current status of the business, some to do some training and
some to plan my priorities for my return to work.”
2. Enlist Some Help
Don’t be afraid to ask colleagues for help in preparing for your KIT Day as this will help you to get the
most out of the day.
Louise Walton, Head of Communications, HSBC Private Bank, did just that. “It’s hard to book meetings when you’re out of the office but try to find out who will be available for a coffee and think about the questions you want to ask.
During maternity leave, I stayed in contact with a couple of colleagues via WhatsApp and they helped me book meetings, contact HR and find the information I needed to make practical decisions about my return to work.”
3. Get on Top of the More Practical Issues
As well as the chance to think strategically about your return to work, KIT Days can also provide an
opportunity to get to grips with your practical to-do list such as ensuring your IT is up and running, or
that mandatory training is completed.
As Geraldine Sudbury, Rapid Pathway Lead, Kensington & Chelsea CNWL NHS Foundation Trust, points out, tasks like these can often be done from the comfort of your own home if your work allows it. “It’s very useful to use one to complete organisational mandatory training; this enables you to be up to date on your return rather than having to try to fit them in alongside returning to your role.
These can be done during nap times over a few days (to accumulate to one paid KIT day).
4. Reconnecting With Your Network
As well as the obvious 1:1 meeting with your manager or joining team meetings, why not use your
KIT Days to re-kindle your professional network?
“By meeting with stakeholders, reaching out to new members of your team and beyond or exploring opportunities to spark up a mentoring relationship with someone who’s already been through the process you will do two things,” says Sam Bethune, Head of Content Planning, Digital Communications, HSBC suggests.
“Not only will you be counteracting the inevitable ‘out of sight; out of mind’ conundrum, but you’ll also be building your much-needed support network for your return. That way it might feel a little less like a culture
shock on your first day back.”
5. Enjoy it!
Whilst undoubtedly the end of maternity leave or shared parental leave can bring about some anxiety, it is also a great opportunity for return to work parents to reconnect with others, have some ‘adult’ time and to remind themselves of life outside of parenting.
Susannah Hardyman, CEO Action Tutoring, rightly says, “Yes, have a clear agenda and purpose planned for it but don’t forget to enjoy the chance to have a hot coffee in peace if you can!”
For more guidance on KIT Days and how to use them, visit the Working Families website.
Prepare for career success as a working parent with our Leaders Plus Fellowship.