Why Honeywell Indias Return to Work is so important for women

Why Honeywell India's Return to Work is so important for women

 September 24, 2019

 Read time

I need to take an extended break from work; in today’s dynamic work environment, will my skillset still be relevant after a few months? Will I be able to perform? And as importantly, if I do well, will I be recognized for my efforts by my manager as I was before I took extended leave?

These are some typical questions that many women have when they need to take an absence from work for an extended period of time. Honeywell India's Return to Work initiative focuses on giving women the resources they need to facilitate a smooth transition back into the workplace. The program also works with hiring managers and teams to enable them to better integrate women coworkers who are returning to work after a long break.

Research and interviews around this situation throws up the main problem that women face when returning to their teams after extended leave: lack of information. This can be further broken down into:

  • Lack of information about the new projects the team is executing
  • Lack of information about personnel changes in the team
  • Lack of information about the day-to-day happenings in the team

Data also pointed out that the most common – and biggest – cause of women attrition is because of maternity, which means women complete their maternity leave and then never return to the workforce. The project team decided to focus first on women taking maternity leave, and how to ease their integration back into their teams, once they were ready to return.

Focusing on maternity: the biggest cause for attrition

Akshay Bellare, President, Honeywell India, and Ajay Kukreja, Country HR Director, Honeywell India, both believe that the joy of maternity should not come at the cost of losing a connection with the work place and co-workers. They advocate that women returning to work after parental leave should be taken as a career transition point, and no more. At Honeywell, we make sure that these breaks are seen as transient and not career limiting for any woman. There is a special focus to ensure that women are not overshadowed or overlooked because they had to take a break.

Honeywell studies the roles of employees returning from maternity leave in connection with their involvement in key projects and innovations, and the Company analyzes any areas of concerns or improvements needed regarding career growth after maternity leave ends.

Honeywell supports women before, during and after maternity

For women who work at Honeywell, maternity leave provides an exciting opportunity to relax and enjoy motherhood, while knowing that their Company supports them in their return to work transition - just as they welcome all mothers with relevant skills and experience looking to join the company after a career break.

How do we do it? From webinars, support buddies, role reviews and more, Honeywell provides a great process for their women employees looking to transition back to work.

The Honeywell Return to Work program in India supports its women employees through their entire parental journey covering all three stages - before, during and after maternity. What makes the program truly special is that women who are planning to embark on the journey of parenthood know they can receive support from the initial stages of pregnancy itself. The Honeywell Pregnancy Care program covers counselling and support during pre-birth – pregnancy through trimesters, dietary requirements – to neonatal – wellness steps and exercises during pregnancy and childbirth – and culminates in the hand-holding process of returning to work. This constant relationship ensures that the employee is fully supported in her transition back into the workplace.

Key components of the Honeywell Return to Work program are:

  • Assigning a ‘buddy’ to the employee on the day her maternity leave begins
  • The buddy is tasked with helping the soon-to-be-mother remain connected, by sharing information on organizational changes, policy deadlines, project updates, and other relevant matters, while she is on leave
  • Managers and the employee’s teams provide focused training for her when she returns, so she is quickly updated
  • Her manager identifies a role/ project for her when she is ready to re-enter the workforce and shares these details at least 15 days in advance of her date of re-joining

return to work Honeywell

Buddying up is key to a successful return to Honeywell

The ‘buddy’ element is the secret sauce of the Honeywell Return to Work program and is critical to its success. The Company works hard to ensure each chosen buddy has a high chance of success.

The employee’s manager selects and recommends the buddy, based on the rapport between the buddy and employee. Ideally, the buddy already has a great relationship with the woman going on maternity leave and works within the same team. A good buddy is someone who can relate to and empathize with the needs of the mother. All buddies undertake an induction process so that they can feel confident while lending a supportive hand.

“I had a good experience interacting with Padmavathi as her buddy and sharing our experiences. I used this opportunity to motivate her as well as understand and address her perspective on various professional/ personal topics. The program is a good platform to help each other and grow ourselves during the course of action. Thank you for providing this opportunity.” Sandhya Devi Varanasi.

Almost 100 percent of women returners remain at Honeywell

The results of Honeywell’s Return to Work program speak for themselves. Since the program was first trialed, post maternity leave employee retention figures have reached close to 100 percent. Employee engagement numbers during maternity leave have also jumped to 95 percent.

“My initial days at work were filled with anxiousness. Managing my newborn and adapting to the responsibilities at work seemed like an uphill task. Honeywell ensured that my re-entry to work was easy and seamless,” Pravesh Kumari, System Engineer, Aerospace, Honeywell

“I received immense support from my team and manager who gave me ample time to settle down and regain my mental balance. This program resolved my return-to-work dilemmas post childbirth.” Supriya Gollapudi, Safety & Productivity Solutions (SPS), Honeywell

“The flexible work arrangements, and constant support from my team and manager helped me juggle work and responsibilities” Vidya Sagarika, Safety & Productivity Solutions (SPS), Honeywell.

What’s next? Expanding the program

The Company is looking to expand the program to embrace the full philosophy of Return to Work: to assist any qualified woman – whether an employee or not – who has left the workforce for any reason and now wishes to come back to work. At Honeywell, we believe this is not only great for business, but also the right of every woman.

Work for a company that supports women at any career stage

Honeywell understands that any woman, from any background or at any stage in her career, can contribute something vital to the company.

Want to be a future shaper?

Search and apply for career vacancies at Honeywell today.

Find out more

Stay connected by subscribing to our monthly newsletter and following us on LinkedIn, X, Instagram and Facebook.

Disclosure: Where Women Work researches and publishes insightful evidence about how its paid member organizations support women's equality.


Join our women's careers community