Happy (Working) Mother’s Day?

Corporate America, take note: The good news is that 88% of U.S. workers say they admire working moms’ abilities to “do it all” when it comes to work and family.

Adecco USA’s latest Workplace Insights survey also shows 82% think working moms are just as productive as employees who aren’t parents. Among working moms, 44% say flextime helps them be more productive.

However, the same survey of 1,909 working adults finds that 59% of working men age 35 to 44 say flexibility for working mothers causes some resentment among coworkers.

Conducted in late April, the survey also shows that 36% say moms’ flexibility negatively affects team dynamics, with 31% saying employee morale is also adversely affected.

While American workers realize the abilities working moms possess, Adecco recommends that employers work to manage the perceptions and attitudes some employees have toward any special arrangements provided to working moms.

Adecco offers the following tips for companies to keep negativity at bay:

  • Give male workers opportunities provided to their female counterparts. Create arrangements to allow them to balance work and career, which Adecco says can have a tremendous impact on retention and productivity. Promoting these types of opportunities can serve as internal morale boosters, the company says.
  • Have a written flex policy. Communicate flextime arrangements and keep teammates in the know about project schedules to help team dynamics.
  • Manage those with flex-schedules to help balance priorities. Adecco says weekly check-ins and status updates on key projects can help, so that one person’s flexible schedule doesn’t affect overall productivity.

Defining Flex Time

Of course, working moms might laugh that anyone envies their “flex-time,” since Salary.com’s recent working moms survey found that most logged an average of 49 hours beyond their full-time paying jobs.

While not compensated monetarily, the Salary.com survey determined the average mom’s additional hours at home would earn her a hypothetical salary of $85,939 per year, in addition to her full-time job earnings. Salary.com took the national median salary for 10 positions, including housekeeper, cook and janitor, to calculate the hypothetical salary.

“Men and women think of flex time in very different ways,” says Maria Bailey, the founder and CEO of BlueSuitMom.com, an award-winning website for executive working mothers.

“These working moms are committed to working. It’s not easy to work and be a mother,” says Bailey. “For women to make that choice, they are committed to working and to their employers, and they want to make these relationships work.”

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Bailey, an author and the host of Mom Talk Radio, was named one of America’s Best Work and Life Balance resources in February 2004 by Inc. Magazine.

In her extensive research for her books and websites, Bailey says she discovered that while 90% of working women want flexibility, only about 40% actually use it on a regular basis.

“Recruiters get caught up in the term flexibility, thinking it means they’re only going to work 29.3 hours. Really, the definition of flexibility is different to working moms. Motherhood is one of those unpredictable things; it’s being able to adapt to the unexpected occasions of being a parent,” she says.

She explains that the simplest things could make a working mother feel like her company cares.

For example, her research uncovered that 80% of working parents do not know what they are cooking for dinner by 4pm most days.

A reader on Bailey’s BlueSuitMom website wrote in about her employer, JM Family Enterprises in Deerfield Beach, Florida, one of the largest Toyota distributors in the country.

The reader explained that her company decided to keep their afternoon chef on-site until 5pm. Every day, the chef circulated a take-home dinner menu that workers could order at noon and pick up at 5pm.

“The flexibility to work another half an hour and not worry about dinner prep became a great service to them, and their loyalty just spiked,” adds Bailey.

Elaine Rigoli has nearly 15 years of experience managing content and community for various B2B and consumer websites. Elaine has written thousands of business and technology articles and has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal and eWeek, among other publications.


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