Give Moms and Employees the Gift Of Flexibility
Make meeting basic government regulations for time off for your employees your floor, not your ceiling.
If your response to a working mom’s request for time off isn’t — “Please take all the time you need to care for your family” — it’s time to add large doses of love and empathy to your workplace culture.
Working moms are not happy. They are frustrated, stressed, and burned out. So much so that one out of three mothers are thinking about leaving the workforce or downshifting their careers, according to recent McKinsey & Company research.
And many of the millions of women who left work during the pandemic have not returned. Our lack of affordable, dependable childcare is an obvious reason for this exodus. Another is the unwillingness of employers to be flexible.
Our lack of affordable, dependable childcare is an obvious reason for this exodus. Another is the unwillingness of employers to be flexible.
At a time when organizations are struggling to find the talent they need, they risk losing some of their most valuable contributors — women.
It’s long past time to create flexible, supportive work environments that meet the needs of moms. Clearly, employers looking to convince women to return to the workplace need to develop specific strategies to help them succeed at work while balancing family obligations — with a little time left to pursue their own pleasures and interests.
But don’t stop there. Offer empathy and compassion to all your employees.
It’s not just working mothers who are looking for family-friendly policies and benefits — dads, future moms, and anyone with a family they care about. Each one of us is a complex human who needs and deserves a caring leader and work culture focused on the wellbeing of its people.
Offer empathy and compassion to all your employees.
Don’t just go through the motions. Give mothers (and dads) generous paid time off for birth, childcare, and elderly or other care responsibilities as well.
When you create your own mother- and family-friendly best practices, it helps you attract and retain the people you need to grow and thrive. In accommodating your moms, be kind, considerate, respectful, and flexible in meeting specific personal needs. Make meeting basic government regulations for time off your floor, not your ceiling.
Make meeting basic government regulations for time off your floor, not your ceiling.
Practices that show you care
Flexibility is high on the list of critical factors that entice women to return to work.
Recent research from The Mom Project’s WerkLabs finds that the average working mother doesn’t want to be in the office more than two days a week. Wherever possible, find options for them to work from home (or anywhere) so they can support the people they love.
Federal law mandates that employers provide nursing mothers unpaid break time and a private space (other than a bathroom) for up to a year. Make them paid breaks. And don’t put moms in a supply closet. Create a welcoming, easily accessible, pleasant space, preferably with a small refrigerator, sink, comfortable chair near an electrical outlet — and of course, a privacy lock on the door.
Other creative practices for developing a more mother-inclusive workplace are outlined in an honor roll of the “Best Places to Work for Moms” offered by Parents@Work. Their initiative is designed to help organizations recruit, retain, and support employees with kids.
The following, are examples of what some of the honor-roll companies (from small to global) are providing:
- Generous paid time off for parental leave, ranging from 8 to 26 weeks
- Gender-neutral maternity leave to create balance for moms and dads
- Return-to-work transition periods to get up to speed
- Unlimited PTO and flexible work arrangements
- Prenatal and postnatal coaching and local health partnerships
- Concierge service to help access services and company benefits
- Onsite daycare and childcare subsidies
- Breastmilk shipping services
- Financial and other support for adoptions, fertility treatments, and surrogacy
- Backup childcare and eldercare
- Telehealth access
- Mental healthcare resources
- Tutoring and college application coaching
Work together to create solutions that are flexible, personal, and fair to all employees, including those who are not parents or caregivers at this moment.
Personal situations and needs are unique and endless, as are ideas to accommodate them. Ask moms and all your employees what you can do to create a sense of caring and wellness in your organization. Work together to create solutions that are flexible, personal, and fair to all employees, including those who are not parents or caregivers at this moment.
Candidates and employees will be looking at your policies to determine how mother-friendly and family-friendly your workplace is. Each of us is a whole person who has a personal life outside work.
Our wellness and success at work and at home are intertwined. It makes sense that work policies and practices reflect this truth.