On Mother’s Day 2024, how are working moms faring? – Mary T. O’Sullivan

By Mary T. O’Sullivan, MSOL, contributing writer

“Moms aren’t dumb because they had kids. They just reprioritized how they spend their time, and we’re penalizing them for wanting to live a life.” – Holly Corbet in Forbes

It’s no news flash that the “Mommy Track” still exists, but today, post pandemic after months of working at home, Moms are pushing back against the old adage that child rearing interferes with their career success. Businesses have learned that if they want to keep a quality and diverse workforce, they need to adjust to the new reality and the future of work. And HR needs to play a key role in keeping employees happy and making employers aware of the consequences.

In a recent Maven Clinic study, “…replacing an employee who leaves after childbirth can cost anywhere from 20% to 213% of their annual salary”, an enormous impact on a business’s bottom line. This statistic, along with the introduction of remote and hybrid work, has made it easier for Moms to adhere to a more flexible work schedule. With a flexible work schedule combined with improved maternity leave policies, women of childbearing age can keep up with their male counterparts who have escaped mothering and the physical and mental pressures that go along with it.

Forbes also reports that “We’ve reached this era where people understand at a very visceral level all the tradeoffs we’ve been expected to make for decades had a false promise that if you work really hard and go above and beyond, then you will have this steady, upward career trajectory with no interruptions and a constantly rising salary. And employees now know that is just not the case.” The pandemic forced organizations to read the tea leaves, and now realize that it’s just not worth it to faithful employees to continue to make the same sacrifices and forgo family time, including care giving and carpooling, for the illusion of possible future success. Women know that whether they are home taking care of kids or at the office, they have the same level of talent, know how, legacy knowledge and company loyalty. Along with learning to say “No” to non-essential work and home obligations, women create time in their lives to ease the pressure. Women now know they can’t be all things to all people. Smart companies are learning that it’s just not worth replacing those valuable employees. Studies show when there are at least 30% of women in leadership positions, company profits rise by 6% each year.

Organizations should lean on their HR departments to enact important policies and procedures that support new parents integrate back into the workforce, whether it be remote, hybrid or return to office. It’s up to HR to allay fears parents may have of repercussions from employers if they aren’t planted in their seats from 9-5. Besides showing empathy, HR needs to encourage and uphold flexible work schedules, and the demand for remote and hybrid work.

HR can arrange to to record meetings that parents can’t attend and keep them to 30 minutes or less. Meetings notoriously take up too much of everyone’s time, often to no end. Also, HR can ask employees what they want or need for workplace accommodations. People worry about what the company thinks if they have to leave early or come in late or not dial in for a remote meeting for taking care of the kids. Encourage self-care. Maybe the company allows for time at the gym or yoga or has an onsite space for those activities free for employees.

According to a recent study from GoCo consulting firm, as of June 2022, parents felt stressed about uncertainty in school and work schedules. It’s time for companies to realize that these actions are not just another set of perks for the employee, but a necessity for both. HR need not drag its feet in putting similar policies and procedures in place, as good employees could be exiting for another company that meets their needs.

“Employers should prioritize supporting working parents because it can help mitigate job loss and workplace burnout, improve productivity and morale, and attract and retain top talent. Additionally, supporting working parents is a social responsibility that can benefit the community and society as a whole.” – Nick Shurk, GoCo


Connect with Mary:

Read all Mary’s columns here:

Mary T. O’Sullivan, Master of Science, Organizational Leadership, International Coaching Federation Professional Certified Coach, Society of Human Resource Management, “Senior Certified Professional. Graduate Certificate in Executive and Professional Career Coaching, University of Texas at Dallas.

Member, Beta Gamma Sigma, the International Honor Society.

Advanced Studies in Education from Montclair University, SUNY Oswego and Syracuse University.

Mary is also a certified Six Sigma Specialist, Contract Specialist, IPT Leader and holds a Certificate in Essentials of Human Resource Management from SHRM.

Leave a Comment