This week, we recount the insights gained from a recent interview with Mel Berry, Co-Founder & MD of Social Firefly, a social media agency that cares about your achievements just as much as you do!
Mel talked to our very own Ellie Hale about her journey and how we can use our experiences to enrich our businesses and to support our teams, should they choose to embark on parenthood – In terms of wellbeing and practical help, including parental leave.
Ellie writes about the interview here.
As you may or may not know, I welcomed my daughter into the world in that most auspicious of years, 2020. It has been a genuinely glorious experience but also a steep learning curve in terms of both parenting and figuring out how I can marry these two roles together.
It opened my eyes to issues that I simply hadn’t considered previously and given me new perspectives on agency life.
This week, I spoke to Mel Berry, Co-Founder and MD of Social Firefly about her journey and how we can use our experiences to enrich our businesses and to support our teams, should they choose to embark on parenthood both terms of wellbeing and practical help, including parental leave.
“Your life has been redesigned and your life is redesigned around your child because they’re one of the most important things in your life, they’ll be the most important thing in your life.”
Mel started Social Firefly with co-founder, James Armstrong, in 2018, following hugely successful roles in communications for the public sector. During that time, they expanded rapidly and hadn’t necessarily addressed their approach should either of them need time away from the agency to start families.
“I think because between the time of starting a business and me being pregnant was like, a couple of years, we just hadn’t got around to having that chat. So when I sat down with him and said to him, “Oh, by the way, I’m pregnant”, it was a bit of a shock for him.
And we sat down and just had a chat about what we’re going to do because it happened so early. It was quite good in a lot of ways because we were growing quite quickly and we realised quickly we didn’t have the capacity within ourselves.
So, at this point it was time for me to move out of doing so much of the stuff in the business, the client work, and move more into working on the business. And I’d been procrastinating over it because you do what you’re used to doing. But actually it was really good timing because me going off on mat. leave meant that we got somebody else in to cover a load of my client work.”
Mel has learned a lot from her pregnancy and indeed from her return to work, which she did after only two months. As she found, however, parenting doesn’t necessarily follow a linear trajectory and can seem like plain sailing… until it isn’t.
However, as much as new parents are engrossed with the ups and downs of their newly arrived bundle of joy, this doesn’t mean that we simply forget about our work life (honestly, guys, the FOMO is real!) and it can be worrying to try and work out how and indeed if we will slot back into our roles on our return.
Understanding issues like these is key to ensuring a smooth transition from parental leave back to the workplace and making staff wellbeing and retention a priority.
As is the knowledge that no two parents are alike and their needs might be completely different.
Something that Mel knows only too well.
“I think it’s good to be having conversations with people and saying: “What do you need?” When people come back, we bunch of them all together, and we say: “Oh, you must need that and you must need this.” But actually, everyone’s different. People do want to go back straight away full time and people don’t . Both are equally as fine as each other and valid.
What works for that particular person?
It’s having that understanding of: “Do we need to be more flexible for them? How can we make their life easier? How are they feeling when they come back? How do they feel in those first few weeks? Are they feeling guilty because they’re not with their child anymore?” A lot of people do. I did. At the beginning, I felt guilty when I was at work and guilty when I wasn’t.”
Both myself and Mel have implemented practical changes within our businesses based on our experiences aboard the good ship parenting. You can hear about them and our journeys on the Agency Collective Tales Podcast. A full transcript is also available.
Mel Berry, Co-Founder & MD of Social Firefly
Mel is the Co-Founder & MD of Social Firefly, a social media agency dedicated to providing bespoke social media strategy and marketing. Me is a creative digital marketer who works with public sector, charities and businesses to help them achieve their goals. When shes not doing all the above, she’s reading about psychology, travelling, running or hanging out with her daughter Mia.