By Hilary Thompson
New mothers in the workforce are part of a growing trend. Many women are now considered to be the sole earners for their families. Oftentimes, women are working full time while balancing the duties of parenting. Taking care of the working mothers at your company is more than just good business. It’s the right thing to do. Here are a few ways that you can care for the working mothers on your team in ways that help everyone win.
Look for Potential
Give the working mothers on your team the tools and support they need to become leaders. Supplying opportunities for leadership development will not only help the overall development of the team but will also unleash the full potential of individual employees. Offering coaching for things like communication, personal performance, and goal setting are a few great examples. You can even consider using some sort of mentorship program. Instead of assuming that a working mother already has too much on her plate, allow her the chance to grow. After all, having good leadership is vital to a company’s success.
Talk It Out
When it comes to caring for a mother in your workplace, communication is key. Be upfront about your expectations, but allow her to share her expectations from the company, too. After all, the working mother on your team has a lot of new responsibilities on her shoulders. The monumental task of raising another human being, especially with the high demand of a newborn and its developing brain, requires almost constant stimulus and attention. If they’re juggling work on top of that, odds are they’re overwhelmed. Let her know that instead of putting on a brave face, it’s OK to raise concerns or even just take some personal time if she needs it.
Holding down a career and raising a family is already a balancing act of its own. But when you add breastfeeding into the mix, it can be even more stressful. The last thing a new mom wants to worry about is restrictions on pumping. Create a quiet, peaceful space for new moms to pump. Better yet, don’t cut pumping time from their regular break time. While it may feel counterintuitive at first, allowing working moms the time and space they need to prepare nutrients for their child will give them one less thing to worry about.
Don’t Skimp on Parental Leave
Not having a good parental leave package could be costing you top talent. When it comes to what you’re looking for in a potential employee, a working mother may happen to check all of your boxes. You don’t want to miss the chance to onboard an amazing employee because another company had more to offer in terms of benefits. Now more than ever, companies are offering generous leave and benefits packages geared towards new parents. Consider beefing up your benefits plan as both a hiring and retention strategy.
PDA: Public Display of Appreciation
Everyone likes their hard work to be noticed, and sometimes even just the recognition alone can feel like the ultimate payoff. Working mothers may be so busy with everything they have going on that they might not even realize how great of a job they’re doing, so be sure to let them know! Publicly acknowledge their effort at meetings or through e-mail. Throw a celebratory potluck or take them out to lunch. You can even go a little more old-fashioned with a good old thank you card to express your gratitude for a job well done. The bottom line is that employee recognition cultivates motivation, and work ethic. Employees who feel valued are happier, and happier employees work harder and stick around longer.
Be (Realistically) Flexible
Unfortunately, sometimes being a parent means that your life is no longer completely your own. Many of your sick days will end up going to a child, and paid-time-off might now be used for something like a dance recital or little league game, instead of a fun outing or head-start to weekend plans with friends. So long as it’s not a recurring issue or affecting performance, allow for some wiggle room in terms of time off or a slightly varied schedule. Just remember that it’s important to keep things fair. Employees can’t realistically expect a job to work completely around their personal lives. Keep a level playing field when it comes to making exceptions on absenteeism to avoid workplace quarrels or low morale. At the same time, understand that life happens, and allow some breathing room to keep everyone happy.
Offer Options for Childcare
Looking to help make a little extra room on a working mother’s busy plate? Consider childcare options for your workplace. If your business isn’t able to house an on-site option, look into subsidization or reimbursement plans to help cover the costly expense.
Get to Know Them
Sometimes actually caring about someone else’s day-to-day takes a lot more effort than we like to admit. The key here is genuine curiosity. Getting to know your employees can help build trust and form a good foundation for communication. Take the time out of your day to ask about weekend plans. Know their birthdays, as well as their kids’ names. By putting in the effort to understand them as a person, you can help them feel appreciated and develop a more respectful relationship between your team.
Focus on the Positive
Although there are more working mothers in the workforce than ever before, many are still faced with judgment or discrimination. However, working mothers make great employees. They are more empathetic and tend to have keen attention to detail. They also possess a natural leadership skillset that can help your company in many ways. Instead of seeing motherhood as a burden to your business, look at it as an asset to help your business grow. The working mothers on your team do a lot to help both you and your company. Now it’s your turn to help them.
Hilary is a freelance writer, small business owner, and travel junkie. With a background in content strategy, journalism, and business management, she loves to explore solutions for success, in all areas: health, business, parenting, life.