While the number of women taking on jobs and motherhood worldwide increases, becoming a new mother while climbing the corporate ladder is difficult even in modern times. Many new moms are millennial women who were raised as dreamers — led to believe they can be and do anything. These women grew up trusting they could have it all.
Also read: 3 Laws HR Needs to Communicate to New Moms
It is possible to balance motherhood with a career, but being a mom isn’t a walk in the park. It’s more like working three full-time jobs. It’s no wonder more companies lose new moms — 43 percent of working moms leave their positions to take a break or leave their careers behind altogether. Rather than being part of the solution, companies watch new mothers leave their jobs, their talent and potential fleeing with them. Here’s what you need to know about the problem to get moms to stay.
New Moms Crave Family Flexibility
The desire to have family flexibility is why 90 percent of moms work from home. Most new moms are millennial women who struggle to balance parenting and work. More choose to stay at home and work outside their chosen careers to have quality time with their family.
Unfortunately, this may lower household income and does place a mother’s career at risk should she decide to return to the workforce. It’s not that her aptitude would change — just some of the required skills. Don’t be part of the problem. Offer new mothers flex time now to help them achieve better work-life balance, especially as they ease back into a 9-to-5 routine. If their work quality and output remain consistent, consider making flex time a regular thing for moms who might need to pick up the baby early or frequently stay home for a few hours.
Employers Need to Create Maternity Leave Policies
Though considered a world power, the United States is far behind in providing paid maternity leave — it’s one of three countries not offering paid maternity leave, including Papua New Guinea and Oman.
The Family and Medical Leave Act provides 12 weeks of unpaid leave at most, which was a powerful shift when the law first took effect in 1993. However, not much has changed more than 25 years later. Be the force for change and enact your own maternity leave policy to fill the gap for new moms who struggle with returning to work, providing for their family and affording childcare. Why not offer more maternity leave? For example, Netflix offers 52 weeks of maternity leave, and Etsy and Spotify offer 26 weeks.
Here are a few additional ideas to sweeten a new mom’s working and parenting situation. Make a baby care package to help her get by for the first three months after birth. Create a “new baby bonus” of cold, hard cash when she returns to work to showcase work-family support. Go a step further and help her afford flexible childcare to pay for a nanny or daycare — a nanny can average $700 a week and a daycare costs $900 a week, depending on the location, total number of children and other factors.
Skill Development: Don’t Practice Ageism
While it’s illegal to discriminate based on pregnancy or age, many employers do. Young mothers aren’t the only ones who face challenges returning to work. Many women have children later in life, and many others wait until those kids are in high school or college to return to work. Support mothers who return to work at any age to show your company values skill over when or if a woman decides to have a child.
Employers should invest in the continual professional development of all employees, but mothers particularly need that support. Evaluate a new mom based on her skills, and provide resources to help her grow those, such as access to reading materials or financial assistance to take classes.
More companies provide “returnships” to support bringing stay-at-home mothers back into the labor force. For example, IBM created a 12-week internship program for mothers of all ages, and it fills in the gaps for women who lack education or have long periods of unemployment due to motherhood. The fact is that women who return are more focused on work than ever, since they’ve already started their families — or did long ago — and will maintain homes long-term. The return on investment is higher than letting these working moms go.
Companies are losing new moms because they are failing to meet these women’s needs, so these talented ladies must do the best they can to support their families without sacrificing the importance of family time, life and love. Having a child only makes you stronger and more committed as an individual and a professional.
To get working moms to stay, companies should focus on changing biased perceptions of new moms in the workplace. Employ programs and resources for moms to grow professionally. Continued training and access to educational programs matter to new moms just as much as singles who put in 50 hours a week. Look into providing flex time and bonuses toward childcare. Working moms will stay and fortify the company over the years — it’s a win-win situation for all.
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