Before you go off on some, “What about the working dads” tangent, we should establish that according to a 2011 census on families and living arrangements conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, there were just about ten times as many single-parent families that were maintained by a mother than by a father. The number of mothers in the workforce is at an all-time high. A reported 70.6 percent of mothers are in the workforce; not since Rosie the Riveter have we seen these numbers. While we appreciate working dads, we’re just focusing on the ladies for now.
As with any demographic, these employees have a specific set of needs and wants. In order to successfully attract, recruit and retain these talented workers, known for their multi-tasking abilities, you, as the hiring pro, need to know exactly what they’re looking for and how your organization can provide it.
Good Maternity Leave Policies
It’s no secret that we Americans are workaholics, and this definitely translates to our maternity leave policies. We are among the stingiest in the world when it comes to giving mothers time to recuperate and bond with their newborns.
By bettering your maternity leave policies and making candidates aware of them, you are sculpting a company culture that lets these families know that you care about them outside of the walls of the office building. Not to mention, it’s not all bad for you.
Consider what Jody Heymann, dean of the Field School of Public Health at UCLA, has to say: “As well as receiving more one-on-one care, infants are more likely to be breast-fed, which lowers illness and hospitalization rates for infants and benefits women’s health. Beyond the marked health advantages, paid maternity leave yields economic gains in terms of reduced health care costs, reduced recruitment and retraining and improved long-term earnings for women.”
Recently, telecommuting has taken a hit, with the likes of Best Buy and Yahoo cutting or reducing their telecommuting programs. It’s not all bad! When companies work with their employees, clearly define expectations and use good communication, telecommuting can be a mutually beneficial tool. Parents benefit from spending more time at home, with their families. Even if the time is still spent working, we must also consider commuting time as well as the time it takes to get ready for your day. From management’s perspective, telecommuting has been proven to improve productivity, commitment to the company, work-life balance and retention.
While we’re on the subject, Marissa Mayer, the CEO of Yahoo in charge of the decision to ban telecommuting, has recently taken a lot of flack from working mothers, because when Mayer became a new mother, she had a nursery actually built into her office. And I bet that as soon as every one of you becomes the CEO of a successful company, you can build whatever the heck you want in your office, until then, focus on your own situation and work with what you have.
It is inarguable that we work too much, we don’t leave the office at the office, we don’t take enough vacation time, we over-stress ourselves, and we’re spending less and less time as a family unit. We know all of these things, yet we do little to remedy them. As technology advances, there is seldom a part of the day that we aren’t plugged in at work, why not allow these working mothers to utilize the technology in front of them to communicate with their children and/or their child care providers. Piece of mind can go a very long way in the productivity and happiness of a mother.
All of the above boil down to one simple idea: flexibility. Whether it’s creating a relaxing space for the new moms in your company to pump or building a day care policy into your new company HQ, having a flexible viewpoint when you approach working moms in your company makes sense. You don’t have to be a huge corporation to do it either; we recently spoke to a 74-person company that turned a previously unused conference room into a playroom so that their employees could come in on snow days. Get flexible.