There is a reason YouTube is full of videos of people telling their loved ones about their pregnancies – they are full of unbridled, uninhibited joy.
Understandably, a new addition to the family is the happiest news you can share with family and friends. What about sharing your news with your coworkers and boss? Even in a close-knit, family friendly office, it’s important to be prudent and professional.
The timing, details and setting of talking to your boss about your impending addition is something to be carefully considered. Here are six steps to sharing your pregnancy news with your supervisor.
After such positive reactions from family and friends, you may feel tempted to shout your news from the rooftop, or at least the social media rooftop.
However, if you are friends with your co-workers or boss on Facebook, don’t let them hear the news through the online grapevine. Think twice before you Instagram a photo of your positive pregnancy test, even if your account is private. You never know if a friend of a friend might accidentally share your news, even with the best of intentions.
As a rule, resist the urge to post your pregnancy news online until you’ve informed your boss so he or she finds out directly from you.
And always tell your boss first – not your coworker or work bestie – to avoid getting the whole process off on the wrong foot.
Unless you have a high-risk pregnancy, you’ll start out by going to the obstetrician once a month. While you will probably be most excited to hear the baby’s heartbeat every time, you’ll also want to be sure to talk about your job with your doctor.
Talk through your typical workday. Does it involve carrying heavy loads, exposure to chemicals or any other potential risk factors? If so, your doctor can talk to you about how you may need to adjust your work schedule and at what point in the pregnancy.
If you don’t have any risk factors at work, you may want to be cautious about sharing your pregnancy news too early at the office for a number of reasons.
Most wait until after the first trimester when the risk of miscarriage lessens, which is a good rule of thumb to follow.
Another thing to consider when deciding on your timing is your office culture. If you work in a rumor mill or a less than family friendly environment, you may want to hold off until you’ve had a chance to prepare and research your leave options and make a plan for your absence.
Revisit your employee handbook to find out about your maternity leave options, like paid time off or the Family Medical Leave Act. Some women are forced to rely only on whatever paid time off they have accrued. In fact, almost one in four moms return to work within two weeks of having a baby.
Now is the time to start thinking about how you may want to shape your maternity leave. Will you ask for more time or take unpaid time? You don’t need to know specifics now, but you should understand your office policy – the topic is likely to come up sooner rather than later.
You can get the conversation off on the right foot by setting aside an appropriate time to discuss this. Don’t bring it up the day before your boss’s big presentation to the board of directors, and don’t try to fit it in during an elevator ride to the parking garage at the end of a long week.
Ask to set up a meeting at a time that’s convenient for them so you can respectfully tell him/her in private and have time to discuss what it means for you and your team.
Ideally, your boss will be thrilled for you and offer to help however they can to make your transition go smoothly. Focus on the positive and your boss probably will as well.
You can also illustrate to your supervisor how seriously you take your work responsibilities by mentioning at least one workflow idea related to your leave.
You can also suggest the training of other employees to cover important tasks and suggest some projects that could be shifted to be finished before you leave. You want to leave with your boss feeling happy for you, and assured that the work will get completed as seamlessly as possible.
Once you’ve shared your news, reassured your boss and maybe heard a story or two from when his wife was expecting, make a gracious exit.
Come up with a plan together for telling the rest of the staff – this will assure him that he is the first to know – and set a time to meet again in the coming months to talk about workflow organization. Even if you have a close relationship with your boss, they don’t need to know about your fertility treatments, just how repulsive you find the smell of eggs or any other TMI moments.
In your initial meeting, you probably didn’t talk much about specifics, so schedule a time further along in your pregnancy for more discussion. At that point, you can review the status of various projects that need to be completed before you go on leave.
Consider asking your boss to come up with some kind of compromise if needed. Could you do a combination of paid and unpaid? Would she be open to you working from home a bit to ease back into the workplace? If you have to start your leave before your baby comes because of back pain, for example, could you continue to work remotely so you don’t use up those precious days off? The point of these follow-up meetings is to keep the line of communications open and honest.
According to the Department of Labor 70 percent of women with children under 18 are in the workforce. So you’re in good company: Millions of women have had this conversation with their supervisors. Sharing your happy news in a thoughtful and professional manner will strengthen your relationship with your boss. Maybe the conversation won’t be worthy of YouTube, but it will be well received.
Have you told your boss about your pregnancy? Are you a supervisor who has heard a birth announcement from an employee? Please share your advice in the comments!
While you’re here, be sure to subscribe to the PC newsletter for more advice about tackling your biggest work concerns and challenges.