Making the decision to become a working mother is not one that is taken lightly. Women want to find fulfillment both at home and in their careers, but balancing the two often takes effort on the part of the workers and the businesses who hire them.
The effort is proving to be worth it. Having women in the ranks of management is beneficial to most companies, as women are often seen as more nurturing an engaging than their male counterparts. The skills gained in parenting are now being looked at as talents valuable in the work setting.
Enticing working mothers into their employ is something companies should be focusing on. Here are some things that small businesses can do for working moms to make them an attractive option.
Paid Parental Leave
The time spent bonding with a new child is priceless whether you are the mother, father or adoptive parent. That’s why it is hard to believe that only 21 percent of companies in America offer paid maternity leave and only 17 percent offer paternity and adoption leave.
Working mothers are feeling the pressure and financial strain to rush back to work after giving birth or bringing a new child into their family. Even the best employees can become ineffective if they are preoccupied by health and emotional concerns, so forcing mothers to return from maternity leave too early can be counterproductive.
All of the companies ranked by Working Mother magazine as the top 100 companies to work for offered paid maternity leave, and most offered paid paternity and adoption leave. Offering this benefit is something that small businesses can do for working mothers.
I work in a male-dominated industry and I was the first woman in my business sector to require on-site breastfeeding accommodations. At first, the conversations were uncomfortable for my male management team, but when and where were logistical questions that needed to be answered.
The building that I worked in had only one room without a window, with the exception of the bathrooms, so that became the lactation room for me and all mothers after me. Timing was the next topic to tackle, because the regulatory 15-minute break would not allow enough time for setup, sufficient pumping and cleanup. The decision was made to accommodate me, and all mothers after me, with an extra 10 minutes during my morning and afternoon breaks.
I was one of the lucky 40 percent of breastfeeding mothers who had adequate accommodations for breastfeeding in the workplace. Most women are not afforded the time nor space conducive to pumping. Accommodating breastfeeding is something that small businesses can do to attract working mothers.
Paid Sick Leave That Extends to Family
Paid sick leave for employees is still a privilege, so having paid sick leave that extends to cover the care of immediate family members is a benefit that most employees don’t think to consider. Only 40 percent of businesses in America offer paid sick leave, and even some of those don’t offer leave to care for others.
Mothers put the health and well-being of their children first, so if they don’t feel they can be honest with their employers about what they need time off for, the employer could be missing out. An employee may call in sick when they feel fine so they can stay home with their sick child. If sick pay extends to family members, an employee can be honest about the situation and perhaps even work from home.
On-Site Child Care
The benefits of allowing working mothers to be near their children during the workday are vast. Mothers can focus on work knowing that their children are safe nearby. As with any child care situation, the parents must feel that their children are getting the mental, social and physical stimulation that is required for health growth and progress, so the care must be high quality.
On-site child care is a perk some of the top Fortune’s 100 Best Companies provide. To really set a small business apart as an attractive employer, offering child care would be advantageous.
The possibility of a flexible work schedule is something that is appealing to working mothers because it helps balance work life with home life. Some employees may be willing to work longer hours if it means having an extra day at home with their child. Some employees may need to stay later one day to make up for leaving early on another. Knowing that they can focus on the most important thing in that moment, be it work or their child, makes for a better employee.
Hours aren’t the only thing that can make work flexible. Location can, too. Letting your employees work from home can save your business money and make them more productive. Several factors come into play that make your employees more productive at home: There are less distractions, commute time is turned into work time, and you have less time lost to illness and weather-related occurrences. It also boosts employee morale. Who doesn’t want to take a conference call in their pajamas?
Hiring working mothers can be very beneficial to any business. Women bring a level of compassion that keeps employees engaged. Mothers bring a natural nurturing element that employees thrive under. Keeping a working mother happy and engaged in her work may take a little effort and require some extra perks, but it is well worth it.