When is the last time you celebrated a win, no matter how small?
In the era of a global pandemic when it seems like loses are a daily occurrence, you may (understandably) have put wins on the back burner. I’m here today to encourage you to reignite them.
It turns out a win is easy to find, if you’re looking for it.
Capitalization: It Helps Our Mental Health to Talk About a Win
In positive psychology, there’s a theory called “capitalization,” in which “communicating personal positive events with others [is] associated with increased positive affect and well-being, above and beyond the impact of the positive event itself and other daily events.”
In other words, if something good happens to you, everybody gets more benefit from that something good if you actually talk about it. (You can read more about the theory here and here.)
When I learned about this idea, I started working harder at the end of each day to think back to a success I had at work or with my kids and sharing it with my husband. Taking the time to think back through positive things that happened during the day helps me focus on the good and savor it. Really pushing myself to share these things has been good for our relationship, too. I hear my win or victory reflected back in a really kind and compassionate way. And my husband learns more about my day.
You don’t need big wins or major life events to happen to reap the benefits of capitalization. Any small, happy event or success – from getting your baby to fall asleep, to finishing up a memo you’ve been writing – will work. The literature also shows that the more people you tell, the more magnified the effects. So don’t hold back! Share and multiply all that good with those in your community who will reflect all that goodness back to you.
I’m Sharing a Win with You Right Now
To model this principle – and magnify the effects of my own joy! – I’m going to share a win with you today.
Back in 2014, I decided to start this “Mindful Return” project to create the types of supports for new working moms that I wished had existed when I became a parent. I perceived a huge leak in the women’s leadership pipeline right at the time kiddos arrived on the scene. And I was fired up to do something about this leak.
It turns out research backed up my perception. According to data from Ovia Health, a company that specializes in family and maternity benefits, only 66% of women in the United States return to work after having a baby. That’s a 34% attrition rate immediately upon the birth of a child. See “Motherhood in America Report: Why Women Decide to Leave the Workforce,” Ovia Health Blog, July 9, 2019.
Fast forward 6 years. As of January 2020, I had run the 4-week Mindful Return e-course for new moms transitioning back to work after maternity leave more than 2 dozen times. Within a 5 year period, than 1,000 new parents taking both the mom version and dad versions of the course.
I had the sense – based on anecdotal information and testimonials like the one below – that the program I developed was making a real difference in how new mothers thought of themselves as working parents and leaders in their workplaces.
The support I got from this course and the community honestly prevented me from quitting my job in my first few months back. It’s probably not uncommon that many of the women taking your course have a choice as to whether or not to return to work, from a financial perspective. In the first few months back,“ women (like me) are evaluating whether the money is worth it. Having a community that can help them work through this and potentially encourage them to stay with their employer directly reduces turnover and employer costs.” – New Mom and Mindful Return Alum
Until this year, however, I had not run any data to check my instincts.
The research my team completed in January 2020 leads me to believe Mindful Return is indeed having a positive and significant impact on the retention of new parents. Yes, there are likely many factors that lead to a new parent’s decision to stay with her or his employer. Yet I’m convinced that receiving the message from your employer that “I believe in you and will provide you a constructive way to help you return” makes a huge difference.
Here’s what we found. Of the slightly more than 1,000 new parents who took the Mindful Return course during the 5-year period from January 2015 through December 2019, nearly half were provided the program by their employer. This meant we knew who employed approximately 500 new parents at the time they participated in the program. Our research (conducted by searching firm and company websites and LinkedIn profiles) indicated the following, as of January 2020:
- 85% (418 of 489 new parents) were still at the same employer as when they took the Mindful Return course.
- 93% (456 of 489 new parents) were still employed somewhere.
These retention statistics are startlingly different from the 66% Ovia Health reports – a 19% same-employer retention difference (and 27% difference globally in the workforce), to be precise. Given that the cost of losing an employee can range from “tens of thousands of dollars to twice their annual salary,” we’re talking about employers saving serious chunks of change when new parents decide to stay.
For me, knowing there are more parents out there who feel empowered to be amazing leaders in their workplaces while also being committed and loving parents makes all the effort I pour into Mindful Return worth it. For me, this is a big win!
(Note: Yes, this data is pre-pandemic. Given we’ve adapted the Mindful Return course to the COVID-era and that parents need all the support they can get right now, I predict an even greater value from resources like Mindful Return in 2020.)
What’s Your Win?
So, what win are you going to share today? Remember, any small win counts! And with whom? Pause for a minute, and think about who in your life is most likely to jump up and down with you and share your joy. Then reach out to them.
Thanks for celebrating with me today! Please feel free to “capitalize” right here on this blog and share your own win below in comments!
Want more practical tips on working parenthood? Check out my book, Back to Work After Baby: How to Plan and Navigate a Mindful Return from Maternity Leave