3 Ways to Support the Working Mothers on Your Team

Sunday, February 2, 2020, 6:00 AM | Leave Comment

As a leader in your company, you know that keeping the employees you have is far more cost-effective than replacing those lost to turnover—and that means keeping a satisfied team of employees who are ready and willing to give your company their all.

One of the important ways you can make your employees feel valued is to support the working mothers on your team.

Whether you’re operating a small company or a large corporation, there are plenty of ways you can support parents and help them to achieve the kind of work-life balance that they’ll appreciate and want to perpetuate by continuing to work for you.

  1. Offer parental leave

    Whether it’s their first baby or their fourth, mothers worry about their babies while they’re away at work. You might offer parental leave if a mother has a new baby to help them balance parental duties and work responsibilities. The first year of life is important for a baby’s development, learning, and building relationships.

    Experts agree that the first few months of a baby’s rapid growth are crucial for making important neural connections that will support them later in life, and a parent is often the best person to provide the kinds of stimulation and hands-on experiences needed for that healthy growth.

    When new moms return to work, understand that they may need continued flexibility to ensure their infants are getting all of their necessary doctor’s checkups and that they’re meeting all of the important milestones parents look forward to.

    Additionally, emergencies can arise, and you should have a policy in place to allow for last-minute time off.

    Nationally, workers are required to have 12 weeks of unpaid family leave, and you may need to check on whether your state also requires a term of paid family leave.

    Small businesses are normally exempt from such requirements, but even if you do not legally need to provide leave, consider the value of keeping good employees on staff.

    Consider creating a benefit that works both for your company and for the working mothers on your team. You may be able to move around the employee’s workload to other employees, hire freelance or temporary workers, or create work-from-home opportunities for new parents to accommodate this important time in their lives.

  2. Understand the impact of bias

    Know that working mothers—and women in general—are often subject to a sometimes subtle yet pernicious bias, finding themselves having to prove their value to both employers and fellow employees, particularly after they return from maternity leave.

    Research by authors Joan C. Williams and Rachel Dempsey, who co-wrote the book “What Works for Women at Work,” shows that managers can unconsciously create an environment in which women are asked to work harder than they did prior to maternity leave to prove they are still as valuable and capable as before.

    The best way to avoid such unconscious bias is to be educated on its existence and offer training from coaches who can help your managers and employees to recognize when it’s happening. Set up clear, uniform performance expectations for all employees and have a fair way of measuring progress.

    Creating mentoring programs between newer working mothers and those who have been on the job for a while also can help keep lines of communication open on common problems that arise.

  3. Offer flexible options for work schedules

    All of your employees have a life outside of work, whether it centers on their children or other family caregiving needs, special interests, or other personal needs.

    Developing multiple options for how their workweek is set up can help support the working mothers on your team as well as other team members who are interested in a more flexible schedule – a benefit that will help retain your current staff and attract new employees.

    Working mothers, in particular, may be attracted to a schedule that allows them to leave work early for appointments, after-school commitments, or caregiving conflicts.

    Building in fluidity to working hours can help your employees manage outside-of-work commitments in a way that gives them ownership over their time and production. That sense of ownership can build a stronger sense of loyalty to the company that supports them as a valuable member of the team.

    Some companies allow weekend half-days to make up for time off during the week, and work-at-home and remote working options are becoming more and more feasible as technology evolves.

    Other companies have experimented with job sharing, letting two working mothers share a single full-time position, or letting them share with someone else who wants to work fewer hours, such as an employee who is approaching retirement. While such arrangements can take a little time and energy to figure out, the benefit is retaining experienced employees who both know the job and want to continue working for your company.

One of the best ways to support the working moms on your team is to keep the lines of communication open—ask them what would best support their needs, and work with them to find ways to offer that support to benefit both them and your company.

Written by Morgen Henderson

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