11 Jun How to attract working mums to your company
Becoming a parent is hard enough at times. But when you couple the ups and downs of motherhood with returning to work, and it becomes a whole other juggle to manage.
As a mum of two, I understand the difficulties that many working mums face when it comes to balancing motherhood with their career. And as co-founder and director of The Audit Lab, and an employer of working parents, I’m in the fortunate position of being able to make a difference when it comes to returning to the working world.
Here’s how we make The Audit Lab the best place possible for working mums returning to their careers.
1. Allow a slow return to work
It can be tremendously difficult to leave your baby behind, even for an hour or two. Something as simple as getting your hair done or nipping to the shops suddenly becomes wracked with emotional turmoil. And it only gets slightly easier the more you do it. So asking a mum to leave her baby after just a few months for eight hours a day, five days a week, is akin to throwing them in at the deep end. If the deep end were full of sharks.
Offer them the option of returning to work for two or three days a week at first – or on a part-time basis – with the ability to increase days as and when they feel comfortable. Not only does this help with childcare arrangements – which all parents will know can be difficult to manage at the best of times – it also eases some of the anxiety that mum will undoubtedly be feeling.
2. Work on their own terms
We’re lucky to be in a time where the nine to five culture is on its way out, but there’s still a long way to go. More and more people are demanding flexible working arrangements from their employers, which is helping greatly when it comes to easing back into work after maternity leave. A mum’s commitments to her child don’t end once maternity leave is up, and mums still need and appreciate being given the ability to balance work and home life more equally.
Flexible working can take many forms. It could be the ability to work from home at short notice – like if a sickness bug strikes in the middle of the night – being able to work remotely, or staggering start and finish times to suit school runs and nursery pickups.
Kids don’t stick to a schedule. So allowing parents to adapt their commitments to their children is one of the biggest helping hands employers can offer.
3. Create a mum-friendly workplace
Although it is actually a legal requirement, many businesses still don’t offer a private and safe place to pump breastmilk. Breastfeeding is back on the rise, so companies need to step up and make sure they do everything they can to support something that can be difficult enough without workplace challenges.
This means having a safe and lockable room – no big windows – where mums can pump uninterrupted. And no, it should not be a toilet cubicle. Oh and while you’re at it, a private fridge for breastmilk only would be great.
4. Offer unlimited time off
Take inspiration from some of the biggest names out there. Netflix, Dropbox and LinkedIn were considered to be crazy when they started to offer their employees unlimited holidays. But slowly and surely, a lot of other companies started offering the same – including us! And in fact, those companies who have implemented this have actually reported people taking fewer holidays than they would usually be allocated, as there’s no pressure to take them at the end of the year or risk losing out.
From a working mum’s perspective, it allows them to be off with their children for short notice or for planned events such as plays or performances. They don’t have to miss out on important moments, or a day’s pay. It’s a perfect way to help manage that work-life balance.
5. Keep the career focus
Having a baby doesn’t put a halt on ambition. Notice that a man’s career projection doesn’t stop when he becomes a father. And if anything, having a baby will fan the flames of a mum’s ambition because she wants to prove to people, and herself, that she is so much more than “someone’s mum”.
Be sure to allow a mum’s career progression to pick up where it left off once they return to work, and make sure they have all the tools and help from you to get their career where they want it to be.