How To Support Mothers In The Workplace And Why It’s Good For Business

It’s no news that the pandemic has shifted employee priorities: Nearly half of employees say they are less committed to their jobs than they were before the pandemic, and a whopping 99% of those employees have children who are, according to a Mom’s survey live at home hierarchy of needs.

Nurses, most of whom are women, have been pushed out of the labor market in droves during the pandemic. It takes a lot of time for companies: while 75% of expectant mothers say they are excited to return to work after giving birth, 43% end their careers – and replacing an employee who leaves after giving birth can cost between 20% and cost 213%. of their annual salary, according to the Maven Clinic.

“If I do the math, three to four months of paid maternity leave [to help retain a new mother] is nothing in the grand scheme of things — especially when you consider that you’re retaining internal knowledge and likely getting an employee who wants to stay,” says Erica Ballard, life coach for working women. “While it’s amazing that we can put the cost of losing a working mom within the first year of motherhood at roughly $92,000, that’s just the tip of the iceberg of how much you save and doesn’t take into account the money.” that you have to make stand. We know that an organization with 30% women in leadership positions can increase profits by six percentage points annually. They’re losing talent, so why aren’t we doing more to keep moms? Moms aren’t stupid for having kids. They’ve just reprioritized how they spend their time and we’re punishing them for wanting to live a life.”

Leslie Forde, founder of Mom’s Hierarchy of Needs, a community for parents and a research-based framework for balance, says that when mothers began surveying parents six years ago, they reported being stressed beyond their limits.

“The pandemic has added this whole new set of difficult conditions and life-and-death choices that have pushed people over the edge in ways that go beyond the integration of normal self-care practices,” says Forde. “Where are we going in this post-pandemic world with these other stressors like inflation, loss of reproductive choice and other things that make women feel like they’re being squeezed in every direction?” My response was to let go of the “mother box,” or what society defines motherhood as, and be a bit reckless with your time.”

Forde also works with companies through their Allies @ Work program to teach organizations how to support caregivers at work with policies, benefits and infrastructure that enable an inclusive environment. “I also preach that the types of support that employers would need to provide to make a mother with young children successful would also be welcomed by a 25-year-old man who wants to surf and have a dog,” Forde says. “We’ve gotten to that era where people understand on a very visceral level that all the compromises we’ve had to make for decades have had a false promise that if you work really hard and give it your all, you’ll have this stable, career advancement without interruption and a steadily increasing salary. And employees now know that is not the case.”

While there is no quick fix, employers have tremendous power to make policy changes that can help better attract and retain working parents. While moms wait for the policy to change, there are also individual steps they can take to better protect themselves from burnout. Here are a few action steps from the experts on how to do it.

Take time for yourself because the work will never be “done”.

“Self-care isn’t just about pampering yourself; it’s really about our health,” says Forde. “Women are at higher risk for anxiety, depression and a whole host of stress-related illnesses. I think we don’t talk enough about the fact that women’s lifespans are being shortened in many cases because of this crisis of lack of care infrastructure. That’s why I encourage moms to be incredibly reckless with their time and spend some time each day taking care of themselves — even if it means telling someone no to do something later than planned is uncomfortable, on this one Not replying to email or opting out of this meeting.”

Forde drew her mother’s hierarchy of needs on a piece of paper as she herself battled burnout after her second maternity leave, before turning it into a research study of other mothers. The bottom two-thirds include children’s well-being, children’s activities, household responsibilities, and professional roles. The top provides self-care such as sleep and health; healthy adult relationships; and interests such as fun, hobbies and learning new skills.

“I had the epiphany that if I always prioritized the bottom two-thirds, I would never have time for my mental, emotional, or physical health because those tasks would never get done — even if I did them 24/7. says Forde. “I realized that you have to create your own standard. And society will try to shame you and make you feel guilty for the time you spend at the top. You don’t see people on your social feeds saying, “I took a nap.” You see people taking their kids to birthday parties, family vacations, or work events. In our society, we are not celebrated for taking care of ourselves in a sustainable way. So it really resists this pull of culture. I encourage people to measure how much time you spend in the top third and understand that everything works and feels better in the bottom two thirds when you take some time to take care of yourself in the top third take care of.”

parents loud

In order to normalize caregiving in the workplace, it is important that managers, supervisors and others in positions of power are transparent about their caregiving responsibilities. It does things like sharing your team, telling you to go to your kid’s soccer game instead of leaving the office early to make an “appointment,” blocking your kid’s dentist appointment on your calendar, or sharing, if your childcare fails . By being open about taking on responsibilities outside of work, you help give others permission to do the same.

Find strength in numbers with employee resource groups

Most moms lack psychological security in the workplace: Research from the Mom’s Hierarchy of Needs pandemic study shows that only about 3% of moms say they can ask their boss what they really want. Staff Resource Groups (ERGs) can be a safe place for parents if they don’t have it on their teams.

“ERGs that revolve around parents or caregivers — or even women and women of color — are taking on an increasingly important and supportive role, especially in larger organizations,” says Forde. “If you don’t have the individual security, lean on the strength of the numbers and talk to the other parents about what your manager wants you to do or what your department wants you to do. Find out if they have the same expectations and how you can create positive change as a group.”

Match your time to your values

“Look at the last ones Deer vs Wade choices, the lack of formula, gender discrimination in the workplace and the injustices in our own homes,” said Whitney Casares, MD, MPH, FAAP, pediatrician and founder of Modern Mommy Doc. “While there are so many issues that lie outside of ourselves, there are things moms can do internally to make a difference.”

dr Casares developed a framework called the Centered Life Blueprint to help mothers determine their values ​​by outlining the five things that matter most to them in order to focus their time, energy and focus on living a meaningful life. Once you’ve identified your top five values, you can create a plan to address the other areas in which you spend your time. “There are four different categories of things that tend to eat up our energy and hurt our values ​​— or the things we really want to do to find meaning and purpose in our lives.”

The first are the non-negotiable things, or the things only you can do that no one else can do for you. There are ways to do these things more efficiently, using strategies to reduce the time or energy you invest in them. “For example, I have to spend the time writing patient notes after seeing patients in my office,” says Dr. Casares. “I could write a novel every time, or engage in selective mediocrity and write a few short sentences. I intentionally don’t spend that much time or effort.”

dr Casares calls the second category the “swapables”. These are things that need to be done, but someone else could do them for you. Think: If your kids need to be picked up from exercise, you can carpool with other parents to cut down on the time you spend doing it. The third category is the “contaminants,” or the things you do out of a sense of duty or expectation of others, such as saying yes to getting a co-worker’s birthday cake. They can go. The fourth category is the “heartstrings” or things you really want to do, such as B. Spending time with your in-laws, but doing so at the wrong time or place makes you feel upset. Once you’re clear about your top values, it’s easier to assess your time and decide whether to do things according to your priorities or let less meaningful things monopolize your energy.

The old adage goes that it takes a village to raise a child, but in America that responsibility usually rests disproportionately on the shoulders of one person, often a mother, and the pandemic has made it clear that one person can’t do everything. Mothers are not broken – the system is – but at the same time we also have to find strategies to survive within these systems.

The bottom line is that we know how important it is to represent working mothers in the workforce. “The responsibility lies with companies to develop programs, systems and policies that support caregivers,” says Dr. Casares. “It’s about women, it’s about men being fathers, it’s about people caring for the elderly and it’s about people wanting a life outside of the office. We are all human. The more workplaces and companies that can actually understand this and develop programs, the better off they will be at retaining their employees. And we know that’s a good business model.”

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