The Covid-19 pandemic shone a bright light on just how challenging the workforce was when it came to working moms. Before the pandemic, if your kid got sick or couldn’t go to daycare or school, it often fell on mom’s shoulders to figure it out. Women would be the ones that most often had to take off work to care for the kids, and this usually didn’t sit right with many employers.
Employers somehow viewed moms as less committed since they had to push work aside for various family matters. But, what choice did moms have? Dads went to work; moms stayed home with the kids. Even after decades of pushing for gender equality in the workforce, we still weren’t quite there.
But, when Covid reared its ugly head, many of these inequities were pushed front and center. It was women who shouldered most of the burden of childcare and homeschooling when schools shut down.
Moms found themselves juggling caring for the kids, the home, meeting work deadlines, and becoming their children’s teacher. The mental and physical toll became too much for many, and employers didn’t always understand the extra demands.
In some cases, moms chose to walk away from their jobs to handle this new normal. In other cases, they didn’t have a choice, whether their company was downsizing, closing, or needing to “go in a different direction.” No matter the reason, the result was a significant disruption in their career trajectories.
Now, as we’re slowly crawling our way out of the other side of the pandemic, moms are trying to figure things out. For those that want to return to work, things aren’t so easy, despite the number of open jobs available. Covid still presents many unique challenges, with some schools still teaching virtually and other parents deciding to homeschool permanently.
Also, when women had to step away from their careers, they gave up some ground. Now, to jump back in right where they left off is pretty much impossible. Plus, during the pandemic, many working mothers realized just how unbalanced things were in the workforce.
Where was the support when kids were sick? Why were moms expected to give up careers while dads stayed at work? Many moms started to realize just how much their previous employers might not have cared about their personal well-being.
So, it isn't that easy for moms ready to jump back into the workforce. Before they dive headfirst into the pool, they need some reassurances.
If there’s anything the pandemic taught us, it’s that we need women in the workforce. So many places are understaffed and overwhelmed, and a large part of that is the vast amounts of women that left their jobs. So how do companies get them back?
Here are a few things moms considering returning to work should look for in new employers.
A recent survey by Syndio and The Female Quotient shows that almost 50% of women claim to be more productive when they have a flexible schedule. It’s also important to point out that flexibility doesn’t just mean working hours but also location.
If a mom can participate in a conference call while she’s waiting in the school parking lot, why not? Why does that same call have to be done in an office? Many women want prospective employers to focus more on their work quality and not where or when they do it.
In other words, as long as they can get their job done on time and done well, that’s what counts. Why should it matter if they had to do some of it from their kitchen table at 2 pm with a sick kid crashed out on the sofa?
Another big result of the pandemic was a momentous shift to remote workers. When everything was locked down, companies had to allow employees to get work done remotely. It also opened the door for many freelancers and contract workers to find paying jobs.
But, before the pandemic, those who worked remotely were somehow viewed as not as valuable as other employees. If a mom asked to work from home for two days a week, she might face a pay cut to do so. And, she’d take the reduction in pay even though she was doing the same amount of work.
Once again, if you’re doing your job and doing it well, you deserve the same amount of money you would get if you were in the office. Companies need to value their remote workers and recognize them as viable and essential parts of the team.
There’s always been a stigma surrounding mental health, and sometimes as moms, we feel like we’re supposed to handle it all. We’re not supposed to show the world that something’s wrong or we’re tired. Many people feel like admitting to burn-out or stress is a sign of weakness, fearful that employers will let them go and find someone who can “handle the job.”
Instead, employers need to take the opposite approach. Many companies offer complimentary assistance with mental health and physical health. As part of the program, employees can use perks that support parenting and families.
If employers did more to show that they understand the challenges working moms face, they could see more women return to the workforce. Moms need to know that if they get to a breaking point, their employer is there to help, not replace them.
Some companies have started offering dependent care as part of their benefits package. Parents can opt to have a certain amount of money taken from their checks before taxes to pay for childcare. This helps their dollar go further since it reduces their taxable income.
Other employers offer in-house childcare or financial assistance for daycare. If more companies started incorporating childcare benefits, they could entice more moms back to work.
When women stepped away from their careers during the pandemic, they lost a lot of traction. Many women are fearful that they missed their chance to grow in their chosen fields.
Employers need to show their employees how much they appreciate their hard work. Companies that take the approach of thinking their workers should be grateful to them do themselves a disservice. It needs to be the other way around.
It’s also essential for employers to outline clear growth opportunities for all employees. Many moms can’t wait to get back to work (especially after being home with kids 24/7). And if they see a chance to move forward and continue to build their careers, they’re more likely to follow through.
If you’re a mom that’s ready to return to work post-pandemic, make sure to keep your health and self-worth top priorities. If you’re struggling, MamaZen can help with valuable resources and inspiring stories to help you understand and believe just how vital you are.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and bring MamaZen to your workplace.
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