Ways Employers Can Curb Working Mother Burnout
The COVID-19 pandemic has derailed the careers of a staggering number of women. The January 2021 jobs report showed some 275,000 women left the workforce in January 2021, compared to 71,000 men. Overall, nearly 2.4 million women have exited the workforce since February 2020, compared with less than 1.8 million men. Many women have had to choose between caring for their children at home and working since childcare centers shuttered and schools went virtual. The disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on working women will be felt for years to come. As mentioned in last week’s blog, there are things women and families can do to help alleviate the burden placed on working mothers. However, women and their families should not have to face this alone, and employers have a responsibility to step up and get involved. Here are some tangible solutions employers can implement now to retain and support women through the pandemic and beyond.
At the onset of the pandemic, most companies took great care to ensure their employees were safe and had the resources needed to work from home. Employers should continue to reach out to employees to ask how they feel, what they need and how they can best be supported. This could take the form of a simple “check-in” at the start of all meetings or an individual email to all team members at week’s end for a recap of challenges faced and resources needed. By simply asking, “How are you?” managers elicit a sense of compassion, shared experiences and understanding. Studies have shown employer empathy reaps big rewards such as increased collaboration and decreased turnover. Employers should remember that although it appears the pandemic’s end is in sight, employees’ lives are still far from normal.
Communicate And Commit
The pandemic created fear, anxiety and loss of control in everyone’s lives. Employees shouldn’t feel lost and unaware when it comes to matters in the workplace. Employers should let employees know where they stand, what decisions are being made and why and the plan for what comes next. Sufficient lead time is especially important concerning information on reopening the workplace. Employers that have a good sense of when offices will reopen and employees will be expected to return to the office should let employees know as soon as possible. In particular, working mothers will need to make arrangement for childcare that could prove difficult given many schools are still doing virtual learning. If employers expect to transition to a hybrid work model instead of required everyone to return to the office, employers should relay that information and commit to it as soon the decision is made. Policy changes should be communicated clearly with numerous follow-up communications from human resources. Employees surprised by changes in the workplace feel left out and stressed.
It is unrealistic, in most cases, to expect working mothers to perform at the levels seen pre-pandemic. Employers must be cognizant of work-family struggles and reset goals and objectives. Some deadlines may need to be extended and priorities shifted. Employers should consider reducing the number of mandatory meetings and calls and only require participation from those whose participation is essential. Managers should assure employees their performance will be measured by results and not on the number of hours worked and consider the struggles and stress in employees’ lives when completing their next evaluation.
Implement Flexible Family-Friendly Policies
Flexibility has been key throughout the pandemic and should continue to be the norm to help working mothers deal with all their responsibilities. Job-sharing, compressing work weeks, allowing part-time work and allowing shorter work days can help alleviate burnout. One of the many lessons learned from the pandemic is that employees are happier and more productive when they have more control over how and where they perform their job, especially true for parents. Remember the importance of communicating these policies and emphasizing it is ok to use them. Employees take cues from their managers so leadership should let it be known they are participating in new family-friendly policies so all employees know it is ok for them to as well. Employees must know that the company is serious about supporting their employees and actions speak louder than words. Human resources should also send out periodic reminders to employees about mental health services available through insurance providers and employee assistance plans.
Smart HR Is Here To Help
Working mothers are an essential source of human capital for all employers. The boundaries between work and home have blurred like never before. Employees are taking note of how companies are handling ensuring the well-being of their workforce. Besides just being the right thing to do, managers who care for and support their working mothers (and all employees) will reap huge benefits down the road in terms of loyalty and retention. A Smart HR consultant can listen to your organization’s particular struggles and needs and craft a strategic plan your leadership can implement to make sure your working mothers are being heard and supported. Call today.