Working moms, what do you do when your babysitter cancels at the last minute? This recently happened to me. I went into panic mode, and started dialing every one of my friends and family, desperately looking for a solution. I tossed and turned all night—and the next day—with no other solution in sight, I had to take my munchkin to work with me (not the most ideal solution!). Needless to say, this caused me angst, frustration and stress. I started thinking about what would make my life easier as a working mom.
A WORKING MOM’S WISH LIST
- Flexible hours: Flexible start and end times for doctor’s appointments, school events, performances, etc.
- On-Site Daycare: Employers can create childcare facilities and employees can pay fees on a sliding scale, according to their salaries. This would especially benefit low- and middle-income parents, who often have trouble finding quality, affordable childcare.
- More Opportunities for Part-Time Hours or Telecommuting: Some mothers love their jobs, but also want to have some time at home. Part-time opportunities would allow women to have the best of both worlds. And with today’s technological advances, telecommuting is easier now than it has ever been.
- More Time Off: More time in the office does not necessarily mean more productive employees. More importantly, re-energized and de-stressed employees are more creative and innovative employees! Jason Fried, manager of a software company, explains how during six months out of the year, his employees work a four-day workweek: “The benefits of a six-month schedule with three-day weekends are obvious. But there’s one surprising effect of the changed schedule: better work gets done in four days than in five. When there’s less time to work, you waste less time. When you have a compressed workweek, you tend to focus on what’s important.”
- Matching School Vacation Schedules with Work Schedules: There are school holidays (Columbus Day, for example) when some parents have to work, leaving them scrambling to find babysitting. Employers can help coordinate solutions. I am not saying that employers should have to pay for these types of activities; I am simply saying that providing the logistics and solutions for working parents is a step in the right direction.
HAPPY PARENTS=HAPPY EMPLOYEES
An unstressed parent is a happy, productive and loyal worker. In 2011, the Families and Work Institute conducted a study that showed positive correlations between flexible working conditions and job engagement, worker retention and employee health. Providing flexible time to employees also reduces absenteeism and allows employees “to meet both their home and work responsibilities in a manner that is acceptable to both.” Another study shows that companies offering flexible work arrangements and experience much lower employee turnover.
Employers: Take heed! Women represent approximately 47% of the workforce in the US and are becoming increasingly educated; the 2010 Census shows that 37% of women had attained a bachelor’s degree or more, compared to 35% of men. We are not going anywhere! It is time to provide flexible solutions that are compatible with family life, and take advantage of the talent and dedication that women can bring to companies. For all employees, both male and female, it is time to provide family-friendly policies that will keep employees engaged and committed to their company, without asking them to neglect their families.