Women are an integral part of today’s workforce with working mothers accounting for approximately one-third of the female workforce in the United States. For all parents, finding balance is incredibly important but there are many challenges including the need to juggle work duties and the additional responsibilities of being a caretaker.
Here are a few ways employers can provide support for mothers in the workforce, whether it’s through personalized benefits packages, flexible schedules, or welcoming office environments:
Tailored, easy-to-understand benefits
The right benefits are more important than ever to mothers in the workforce. Employers should consider offering the following family-friendly benefits including:
- An inclusive family centered support program that provides access to benefits experts, fertility clinicians, emotional counselors, and lawyers as well as personalized care plans.
- A healthcare plan with a flexible spending account (FSA) that can help caregivers put aside tax-free income for the care of children under 13. That money can help pay for day care, nursery school, and preschool. This is critical, as more than 10 million women rely on childcare and schools to take care of their children while they are at work.
- Mental wellness support including access to an employee assistance program (EAP). This is especially important as 10-15% of new mothers develop clinical postpartum depression.
- Paid family leave positively affects maternal health, paternal caregiving, health outcomes, and breastfeeding rates.
- College savings plans allow employees to direct a portion of every salary into a college savings account and receive the same tax advantages that come with similar retirement plans.
If employers are looking to attract and retain female employees, it’s important for these benefits to be communicated to all employees clearly and effectively.
Work flexibility has become more important in the last few years with 76% of those surveyed wanting flexibility on where they work, and 93% wanting flexibility on when they work according to recent data from Future Forum. Flexibility is important because everyone has different needs when it comes to caregiving responsibilities. For example, some mothers of small children may want to work from home whenever they need to. For others, it may be important to stay close to their newborn following maternity leave rather than being away from them for eight or so hours a day.
By offering flexible work options, employees with families will be less likely to leave their current job for others that offer those benefits.
A supportive office environment
Employers should work to create a supportive and inclusive work environment. One way to do this is by offering a mentoring program or resource groups that can connect new mothers with mothers in leadership positions. Moreover, managers and supervisors should be transparent about their caregiving duties. By being open about having responsibilities outside of work, those in leadership positions give others permission to do the same. These simple measures can help women thrive in the workplace and beyond.
Mothers, and parents in general, bring a great ability to communicate well, multitask, and prioritize duties. By tailoring your workplace to better provide support and resources, you can ensure that your organization can both attract and retain valuable female employees.