Book Review: “Work Pause Thrive: How to Pause for Parenthood Without Killing Your Career”

In her new book, Work Pause Thrive: How to Pause for Parenthood Without Killing Your Career, Lisen Stromberg digs into the reasons why women take pauses in their careers and the steps they can take to successfully return. Relying on extensive social-science research and data about who leaves the workforce and why, Stromberg centers the narrative of Work Pause Thrive around the idea that pausing your career can enrich your career and your life. Covering everything from the complex reasons women opt out of work to the changing workplace and the economic benefits of enabling women (and men) to take time off and return, Work Pause Thrive tells the full story of what it looks like when women are able to pause and successfully return to work.

Through personal storytelling and anecdotes from women who have taken career pauses, Stromberg details how women struggle with the decision to take time off of work and how successful pauses and returns benefit not only mothers but companies and the economy at large. Going beyond anecdotes, Stromberg conducted her own survey of 1,476 working women, finding that 78% of the women who left the workforce had no regrets, with 79% arguing their career pause helped them gain a better work-life balance. Of the women who paused their careers and relaunched, 30% reported being senior managers or above. Stromberg’s data finds that pausing didn’t kill their careers and that they were still able to become leaders.

Throughout Work Pause Thrive, Stromberg argues that pausing can be an innovative career move that brings more satisfaction and success in the long run. Creating a non-linear career and innovating your own path is becoming more viable as the workplace is changing. Taking a pause doesn’t have to be a career-killer, Stromberg argues, in part thanks to programs like Path Forward, parental leave programs, workplace flexibility, and the expanding freelance economy.

Stromberg offers the reader concrete examples and ideas of how to lay the foundation for a career pause and provides blueprints for how to be successful in innovating your own path and thriving in restart programs. Readers will find helpful tips like how to create a post-maternity leave onramp and how to stay in the game during a pause. She also provides companies with advice on how to attract, retain, and promote women.

Readers will finish Work Pause Thrive with a better understanding of what it means to pause your career and how to be successful in returning to work. The research and data Stromberg references throughout the book provides a backdrop for the challenges women face when pausing their careers, and highlights positive changes happening for women in the workplace. She leaves the reader feeling optimistic about the possibilities a career pause can create.