Last Sunday marked another Mother’s Day. What did you do for your mother? Did you make her breakfast in bed, or take her to a movie? Regardless of what you did on Mother’s Day, there’s no doubt it likely wasn’t enough. Without our mothers, we wouldn’t be here.
And yet, most workplaces don’t do enough to support working mothers. We all know about the gender pay gap, but the barriers women face in the workplace extend beyond their pay, especially if they’ve had a child. At least, according to a multi-year study by the Institute of Women’s Policy Research (IWPR).
Per this study, women who took one year off from work had annual earnings that were 39 percent lower, compared to those who worked all 15 years. And, a total of 43 percent of today’s women workers had at least one year with no earnings. This percentage is close to twice the rate of men.
But women, and especially moms, face multiple other barriers to an equal workforce. To get the best talent, and the most from this best talent, utilize employee benefits that help working mothers. Read the rest of this article to understand the 11 benefits you can use to support working moms.
11. Breastfeeding Benefits
The first benefits for working moms you should consider are breastfeeding benefits, which include free breastmilk shipping for traveling moms and creating dedicated lactation rooms at the office. Mothers who must travel for work, after having a child, may need help shipping milk from their location to home. Without this benefit, new mothers could end up spending a lot of their own money anytime they travel for their job.
Similarly, dedicated lactation rooms help new mothers return to work. A lactation room allows new mothers to avoid worrying about when and where they’re going to pump. A safe, comfortable, and private lactation room allows working moms to work successfully, parent, and breastfeed at the same time.
10. Onsite Health Clinic
While this benefit requires a significant investment from the employer, it’s still worth mentioning. Onsite health clinics give your employees more accessible and quicker access to healthcare services for new parents, which helps keep them healthy. Similarly, onsite clinics help new mothers address potential pre- and postnatal health issues more efficiently than before.
As mentioned, onsite health clinics aren’t for everyone. Your organization needs to be the size where an onsite clinic could generate can generate enough savings. Though, it’s notable that a third of U.S. employers with 5,000 employees or more now offer general medical clinics at the worksite, per a Mercer study.
9. Unlimited PTO/Vacation
The third benefit you can offer to support working moms is unlimited PTO or vacation. Unlimited vacation enables employees to take as much time off as they need, provided they stay up to date on their work. Unlimited vacation allows employees to take as much time off as they truly need. Well rested employees are more productive and creative than they otherwise would.
Additionally, unlimited PTO gives parents the flexibility to work around their child(ren). This flexibility lets your staff choose when they use their PTO when they can get the most advantage from it.
8. Paid Parental Leave
Like the previous benefit, paid parental leave, gives your employees paid time off. It’s important to note we’re talking about paid parental leave not paid maternal leave. While implementing a maternal leave policy is a great start; ideally, both parents should receive paid time off for the arrival of a new child. The implementation of maternal leave only creates another difference between working men and women.
The more working fathers take parental leave, the more we challenge the notion that males should be a household’s breadwinner, and females the caretaker. These outdated notions lead to women taking time off from work more often than men, which helps further the gender pay gap.
Spotify was looking to reduce this “motherhood penalty” when it implemented a six-month parental leave policy, for all parents. Ninety percent of employees who used the benefit within the first six months of introducing the policy were male.
7. A Return-to-Work Program
A return to work program is a plan established by a business to help reintegrate employees who’ve been away from work, back into the organization. Employees who’ve experienced an illness, injury, or are new parents, are all prime candidates for a return to work program.
These programs help an employee, such as a new mother, to return to work at their own pace. Without a return to work plan, employees are far less likely to return to work at all. An employee who’s out of work for six months has less than a 50 percent chance of returning to gainful employment. And, if lost time reaches one year, their chances of successfully returning to work drops to 10 percent.
Return to work programs enable employees to reacclimate to the workplace slowly. With this benefit, your staff can get comfortable again in their role at a reasonable pace. Rushing staff back from an extended absence could leave an employee overwhelmed and overstressed.
6. Caregiving Benefits
Discounted or free childcare services are essential to help working moms integrate into the workplace. The cost of center-based infant care, according to Child Care Aware of America, exceeds 27 percent of the median household income for single parents in all states. The cost of childcare is too prohibitive for many households in America.
This problem is where employers can help. Subsidizing or providing onsite childcare is an excellent way to improve employees lives while reducing their financial stress. Plus, caregiving benefits can help employees beyond only childcare. Many parents also must support an aging parent.
According to researchers at Harvard Business School, about 73 percent of employees in the U.S. are caring for a child, parent, or friend. Many employees, in addition to their children, are responsible for the care of an elderly or sick parent or friend. Caregiving benefits give these employees the necessary tools to help them help their loved ones.
5. Flexible Work Options
Like unlimited vacation, flexible work options give your employees increased flexibility to choose when, how, and where an employee works. Flexible work arrangements, which can include flexible location, schedule, and time, give working women, especially working mothers, flexibility to work around the other demands of their lives such as childcare or caring for an aging parent.
A Gallup poll found 53 percent of stay-at-home mothers say flexible hours or work schedules are a significant factor in their ability to take a job. Flexible work options could help attract and retain valuable female employees who otherwise wouldn’t even consider taking the position.
Another benefit your firm can use to support working moms is a formal mentorship program. A mentorship program can keep staff engaged and give females more significant opportunities to advance within the organization. According to research by the Work Institute, the top reason for employee turnover was a lack of career development opportunities.
So, your employees desire career development opportunities, such as a mentorship program. This is good news! Your company can use a mentorship plan to support working moms who could otherwise feel lost or left behind. Plus, mentorship can be a tremendous benefit to your firm.
Per a 2013 MicroMentor survey, mentored companies increased their revenue by 83 percent while non-mentored businesses increased their revenue by only 16 percent. Additionally, a study by MentorCloud found managerial productivity rises 88 percent when leaders are involved in a corporate mentorship program.
3. Mental Healthcare
The adverse effects of stress, depression, and other mental health issues are almost as impactful on your organization as physical health issues. For example, in 2015 alone, major depressive disorder had an estimated economic impact of $210 billion. Similarly, it’s estimated stress costs businesses an average of $300 billion a year due to stress-related healthcare and missed work.
Mental healthcare plans can include employee assistance programs, stress management programs, and resiliency training. Each of these plans helps employees strengthen their mental health and avoid some of the adverse effects of stress, depression, or several other mental health issues.
These programs are especially vital to working moms. According to a recent analysis by Mathematica, perinatal mood, and anxiety disorders both weigh down new mothers and often go untreated. In fact, the estimated cost of these disorders on mothers is $14.2 billion to the national economy.
2. Financial Wellness
As previously stated, stress can have a significant adverse effect on your employees and their work. Financial stress, more specifically, has a considerable impact on employees across the U.S. Per BenefitsPro, more than 70 percent of Americans report some level of financial stress at least once a month. What’s more, according to a 2017 Mercer survey, employers can lose up to $250 billion a year due to employees’ stress about their finances.
But this financial stress is, unsurprisingly (if you’ve been paying attention), even worse for working moms. A new study from Corporate Insight found women aren’t as confident about financial wellness as men are less prepared for retirement and engage in fewer employer-sponsored financial programs.
This lack of financial wellness for working women is due in large part to several significant factors. Per BenefitsPro, most women earn less, live longer, experience more work gaps, and experience higher healthcare and caregiving expenses than their male counterparts.
1. Equal Pay Policy
The number one benefit your company can use to support working moms is an equal pay policy. Many factors go into the gender pay gap. And while it’s highly unlikely you can solve sexism, there are several ways your business can do its part to lessen the gender pay gap.
But the best action any firm can take to lessen the gender pay gap is to adopt a proactive equal pay policy of its own. Make sure, starting at hire; every employee is paid the same for doing the same work. Similarly, make sure you pay attention to the promotion rates of males and females in your firm. Women are far less likely to be in a management or C-Suite position.
When it comes to Mother’s Day, we all get behind rewarding and recognizing the hard work our mothers do every day. But when it comes to workplace recognition and benefits, working moms are lagging behind many other groups. Use these 11 benefits to improve your workplace and support working moms.