Find out 10 ways you can help working moms return to the workforce and balance their career and motherhood.
Many working mothers found themselves in a difficult position during the pandemic. With many daycare centers shutting down and schools closing, many felt forced to choose between caring for their children and continuing their careers.
A large number of them chose the former, leaving good-paying jobs to stay home while their school-age kids were learning remotely, and/or their younger kids were suddenly without daytime child care options.
Between February and December 2020, more than 2 million jobs held by women were lost, either voluntarily or through layoffs and closures. Among them were 1 million mothers.
Now that jobs are opening up again, many mothers who put their careers on hold are looking to re-enter the workforce, and others who never left are seeking ways to make their careers fit better with their role as moms. Here are 10 ways you can help them do that.
More than 2 million jobs held by women were lost, either voluntarily or through layoffs and closures. Among them were 1 million mothers.
1. Offer more flexible shifts
Many moms who were working remotely during the pandemic found that flexibility helped them juggle their roles as employees and moms. So offer them ways to keep doing so. Revisit your policies on family leave. If a different kind of shift would help an employee, such as a 4/10 workweek, see if you can make that happen.
2. Provide help with child care
See what programs you can offer to help with child care. Can you partner with daycare centers nearby to offer discounts? What about Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) that would allow your employees to set aside pretax money for child care? Such accounts can ease your federal tax burden by 30%.
3. Build your employees’ skill sets
Are there skills you can train your workers in that will make them more valuable to you? Doing so will help both you and your workers. Explore cross-training opportunities at your office. Look specifically for skills that will translate well across different departments, such as programming, spreadsheets, search engine optimization, cybersecurity, and communication.
4. Encourage them to pursue their interests
Some skills your employees may want to pursue won’t help you with your current jobs, but if they’re passionate about them, it can improve morale and show you care about more than just their workplace productivity. Maybe they always wanted to take flying lessons. Or perhaps they wanted to learn gourmet cooking. Maybe they’re interested in learning to read blueprints and would like to explore construction or engineering. Take an interest in what interests them.
5. Provide ways to network
If you’ve been isolated during the pandemic, you’re not alone. But if you’re fully vaccinated, there’s no time like the present to reconnect with colleagues and clients face to face. Working moms need to feel they’ve got a supportive network, so promote interactions that will facilitate this, from office get-togethers to ways of connecting online through social media and professional websites.
6. Take stock of current trends
If your current approach isn’t attracting or retaining working moms, be on the lookout for ways you can change your culture to be inclusive and supportive. Don’t take your workers for granted. There are other options out there. In fact, 740,000 left jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector in April, looking for different opportunities. Others have drawn a line in the sand about going back to the office: If they can’t continue to work from home, they’ll seek employment where they can. If you’re not in tune with these trends, you could end up losing, or failing to attract, good workers.
7. Offer mentorships
Another study revealed that mentorship programs increased retention rates for women and minority groups from 15% to 38%.
Mentorship can be especially valuable: 3 out of 4 women who work for businesses that provide formal mentorship programs said they accept those opportunities when they’re offered. They’re good for businesses, too. Another study revealed that mentorship programs increased retention rates for women and minority groups from 15% to 38%.
8. Help them boost their finances
Unfortunately, many women have suffered financially since the pandemic. That’s why it’s important to provide them with ways to boost their finances. Point them toward financial counseling that can help them with budgeting and working toward long-term goals, like homeownership. If their credit has taken a hit, they can consider a secured credit card that’s tied to a deposit to rebuild it. It’s used just like a regular credit card, and the holder bolsters credit by making monthly payments on time.
9. Advocate for self-employment
Help your employees understand your role as a small business owner, and let them know it’s an option for them if they choose to pursue it. It’s another way you can demonstrate you’re concerned about their long-term welfare beyond their role with your business, and that will make them feel more invested — even if they ultimately leave. Let them know what’s involved in running a small business full time, including the need to deal with expenses like healthcare, retirement, and taxes on your own without any company contributions or withholdings.
10. Offer more hours and opportunities
Some working moms need flexibility in terms of hours, but they’re also supporting children, so they may need opportunities to earn more money, too. If you can, be open to offering them more hours. Also, give them a pathway to advance in the company, so they can move up on the pay scale.
Balancing career and motherhood is a challenge, but it’s not impossible. If your business can find ways to improve working mothers’ work-life balance, reduce their stress, and make them feel like their career contributes positively to their quality of life, you can benefit from the unmatched skills and experience this demographic has to offer.