For working mothers, creating a work-life balance that allows them to help support their family while also maintaining quality time with their children is ideal. When the company they work for both recognizes those challenges and wants to help them navigate their new situation, it can build a sense of ownership and loyalty that encourages them to stay with you. Doing this help in preventing the costly expense of turnover. Companies, both small and large, can find ways to support the working mothers in their business.
Give her maternity leave.
The first few weeks of a baby’s life are crucial for brain development and growth. The best thing for a baby is to be with her mother as much as possible. The rapid growth occurring in these first few months of the baby’s life is creating healthy neural connections that will support her later. Recovery from pregnancy and delivery also is a concern for the working mother on your team. Having ample recovery time without feeling pressured is important to both her physical and mental recovery.
Nationwide, certain qualified workers at companies with over 50 employees are required to be given 12 weeks of unpaid family leave. Some states additionally require paid family leave. While small businesses are exempt from these requirements, creating a benefit that works for you and your employees can pay off in the end through the retention of your experienced and valuable workers. Look into options such as temp agencies or contract workers to help fill in the gaps where needed.
Let her work from home.
Working from home is quickly becoming the norm instead of the exception for lots of companies. Technology makes it easier than ever to stay connected in real-time. Creating work-from-home opportunities, especially for those small businesses that are unable to offer a parental leave benefit, may be just the ticket. If the work can be done remotely, consider whether this may be the ideal solution. More than ever, companies in 2020 are building secure online work-task systems into their business structure. Also, many new startups are operating without a central office. Building in set check-in meetings and teleconferencing calls can help keep everyone on task and accountable for weekly or daily projects.
Offer flexible workday schedules.
With children, inevitably, emergencies arise. They can get sick at daycare, have a problem at school, or a caregiver can cancel at the last minute. Parents appreciate having the flexibility to deal with the issues that pop up, without the stress of wondering what it’s doing to their work relationships. Flexible scheduling can be an attractive benefit for non-parents as well. Giving your workers ownership over how they manage their work schedule can not only help employees to avoid burnout, but it can help them to feel valued, and in turn, build a greater sense of investment in your company. Try offering options to work weekend days, evenings, or longer days with shorter weeks.
Offer lactation rooms.
Some larger companies have added private lactation lounges for their working mothers. These rooms provide a private space for breast pumping. They come equipped with comfortable chairs, soothing décor, sinks, cleaning products, hospital-grade pumps, refrigerator storage, and more. Even smaller companies can offer this benefit by installing privacy pods like those made by Mamava for nursing or breast pumping. The Fair Labor Standards Act requires that new mothers have a private space and time for breast pumping. Setting aside a place designed just for lactation offers the best option for privacy, comfort, and employee peace-of-mind.
Train your managers.
Research has shown that working mothers often find themselves having to prove their value and abilities upon returning to work from maternity leave. Joan C. Williams and Rachel Dempsey, authors of “What Works for Women at Work,” say managers unconsciously can create a work situation in which these returning mothers are asked to work harder than before to show both leaders and colleagues that they’re still capable of doing the job and equally as dedicated to it, which ends up injuring their perceived value to the company.
Educating managers on this unconscious bias and offering coaching to help them avoid this behavior can help head it off before it happens. Adopting fair and uniform work performance expectations and evaluations also can help.
For first-time mothers, going back to work can pose significant challenges. She may feel torn between being home with her baby and advancing her career. Providing mentorship and networking opportunities with working mothers who have been there, as well as leadership development opportunities for working mothers, can help. It can offer new mothers pathways to manage work responsibilities while juggling the demands of a new infant. It can also keep communication open to avoid problems with scheduling, conflicts with managers, or other issues that may arise.
Consider a daycare benefit.
If you have enough working parents with young children in your company, it may be valuable to offer a daycare benefit. It doesn’t mean that you need to host one on-site. There are plenty of ways to make childcare options easier for your working mothers. Consider offering a subsidy for the cost of childcare – which can earn your company a tax break. The benefit is highly attractive to employees who would otherwise be stuck with those out-of-pocket costs. Other benefits can include Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) or emergency childcare backup plans for a set number of days. Large companies sometimes create small daycare centers in house. Even some small businesses with a high percentage of working mothers have set up in-house daycare. They did so by hiring a childcare worker and setting aside a space – all deductible.
Support Working Mothers
Keeping good communication with your working mothers to help support their needs can resolve many conflicts. For example, it can resolve scheduling, childcare, management, workload, and other issues before they start. Being proactive, innovative, and enthusiastic about your offerings also can build a great company culture. After all your goal should be to attract and retain the hardworking people you need.