Did you know that as of 2020, women made up over 50.4% of the United States workforce? And that a third of those were working mothers? Admittedly, those numbers took a dip because of the pandemic. But they’re on their way back up. Which means that when it comes time for onboarding new employees, more and more companies will be actively recruiting and hiring working moms.
Yes. Studies show that working moms bring a unique skill set to their jobs. Working moms tend to be:
- Capable of creative problem-solving
- Able to think out-of-the-box
- Calm in the face of crisis
- Great at handling pressure and last-minute changes
- More empathetic
Working moms can also serve as great role models when it comes to work-life balance and knowing when to unplug.
The thing is, attracting them to your company takes a bit of understanding.
what you need to know about hiring working moms
Working mothers have a whole set of priorities, focuses, needs and desires that are entirely unique to their demographic. To prospective employers, that can sound somewhat intimidating. As a matter of fact, you might be thinking something like, “What do I need that for?”
But think again. Given what companies stand to benefit from hiring working moms, it’s worth knowing just what your business can do to onboard them — and keep them from moving over to the competition.
So let’s get into the three simple tips for hiring — and retaining — working moms.
tip #1: offer flexibility.
Whether you’re an on-site business or a remote company, the number one thing you want to offer to attract working mothers is flexibility. That means, first and foremost, flexible scheduling.
It’s obvious why this is so important to working mothers. No matter what the ages of their children, working moms are looking for jobs that won’t force them to choose between working or being there for Little League games, dance recitals and helping with homework. Mothers with nursing babies need jobs that don’t necessitate leaving their babies for 6-8 hours every day.
Give it to them. Not only will your flexibility benefit you, it shows potential female hires that your company cares about the needs of its employees and recognizes that there’s life outside of work.
If you’re an in-house company, consider allowing work-from-home a few times a week. If you’re a remote company, congratulations. You’ve already created a workplace culture with the potential to be mom-friendly, so you’re one step ahead. Now go the extra mile. Offer working mothers (as well as any employee who needs it) flexible scheduling. Depending on their family setup, working moms might prefer clocking in during the early hours of the morning, late at night or both.
Be smart about this, though. If you need some team hours to overlap, make that clear. It’s fine to say, “All team members need to be available for collaboration between this-and-this time.” Working moms aren’t looking to be treated differently; they just want a level playing field that takes their other responsibilities into consideration. By offering flexibility, you’re not just giving them a benefit they want; you’re showing them that your company is a place that values and honors their needs. And that’s going to be a big boost when it comes to hiring working moms.
tip #2: support new mothers
This is crucial. Many women who don’t have children yet still view at as a future possibility, and they’re evaluating potential jobs with that in mind.
The good news is, it’s not that hard to provide real, practical support for new mothers. An added benefit: Your current female employees will be much more likely to stick around when they feel you’ve got their back (more on that later). Here are three things you can do:
- Lactation support. This has got to be number one on the list of perks new mothers wish for. While this isn’t the space to go into the benefits of lactation, more and more women are opting to nurse their babies. Support them by providing a comfortable, attractive area for them to pump should they choose to do so. Simple things like comfortable chairs, cubicles for privacy, a small refrigerator/freezer (to store the milk) and a water cooler can make or break a woman’s decision to join a company. Or to stay there; businesses that support lactation have shown retention rates of up to 94% as a direct result of those policies. By the way, that doesn’t let remote companies off the hook. Do you provide your remote employees with office equipment or a subsidy toward it? Try including pumps/nursing pillows in the package. Do you offer mental health support? Add lactation counselors to the list of services. You get the idea.
- Paid maternity leave. Here’s the thing: All businesses are required to offer unpaid maternity/paternity leave. This is a huge improvement over no leave at all, but it’s a bit of a catch-22 for new mothers. On the one hand, their boss can’t say he or she isn’t giving leave. On the other hand, most women don’t take all the leave available to them because they simply can’t go that long without a paycheck. And on the other-other hand, not taking full maternity leave means mothers are coming back to work way before they’re physically (never mind mentally and emotionally!) ready for it. This is an all-around bad situation, not only for working mothes but for their employers, too. By offering paid maternity leave, you’ll attract top talent by showing that you care so much about employees’ well-being you’re actually willing to invest in it. That’s a win for employee retention and performance.
- Update your paid time off policy. If your PTO policy is highly specific — X number of sick days, vacation days, personal days, sick-child days, etc. — consider restructuring it. That doesn’t mean unlimited PTO, necessarily; what it means is not telling the mother of a 6-month old, “Listen, I know your baby is sick with high fever and in ear infection but she also had strep throat last month and your child-sick days are all used up. Sorry, but this time it’s going to be unpaid time off.” Instead, let all employees know how many days off they have per year, and let them allocate those days according to their personal needs. This arrangement doesn’t only show that you’re considerate of working moms and their needs; it shows that you value and appreciate every employee’s concerns, and that you trust them to use their time wisely.
tip #3: hiring working moms means understanding childcare
Working moms spend a lot of time each day being concerned about their kids, especially babies and toddlers who aren’t yet in school. That’s one of the reasons that childcare is such a huge deal. The other is that finding quality daycare for that age bracket isn’t just difficult; it’s highly expensive, too.
Short of doing what Google does — providing affordable, quality on-site daycare — what can smaller businesses and remote companies do to ease the daycare burden?
Here are a few ideas:
- Consider childcare a business expense. There are a lot of business expenses that employers reimburse for, whether fully or in part. Adding childcare to the list will help you attract top talent and set you apart as a company that’s family-friendly.
- Childcare stipends. Rather than counting it as a business expense, consider offering stipends for childcare.
- Flex-spending for childcare. This kind of system allows for working moms to pay for part of their childcare costs on a pre-tax basis.
So there you have it — three simple tips you can use right now for succesfully attracting and hiring working mothers at your company…and keeping them there, too. Good luck!
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