We’re in the business of supporting mums every day of the year (not just on Mothers Day!)
It’s Mothers Day this weekend (time to panic buy flowers if you had forgotten!), and while it’s a great time to celebrate the mothers in your life, it’s also a timely reminder for us all to recognise the value that working mums bring to the workplace every day of the year.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics shows us that 53% of Australian mothers have a full-time or part-time job, however in a 2020 LaTrobe University study it was reported that working mothers who worked longer hours reported the worst mental health of all participants. Their research suggests that mothers are more likely accommodate for their family by compressing their workday, missing breaks and working after hours to fit everything in.
And this past year, with school closures, office closures and in some cases job uncertainty due to the pandemic, has not helped the mental load that our working mothers are facing.
As business owners, it’s important for us to consider how we can support the working mothers at our business and in our wider community. Dr Frank Chow, psychiatrist at 2OP Health notes that “companies are more likely to be successful when a gender balance between men and women exist” Mothers bring a different perspective, which has been shown to lead to improved business innovation. By bringing working mums into the workplace, organisations encourage workplace diversity and gender equality, which in turn leads to improved sense of company culture.
Just last week, the Morrison government committed to a $1.7 billion childcare boost, aimed at encouraging more women to return to work. The changes mean that the childcare subsidy for families with two or more children aged five and under will increase from 85% to 95%. This is a step in the right direction, but more still needs to be done to make full-time and part-time work a viable option for mothers.
So let’s consider how can we support working mothers within our own companies? Flexibility is key. Allowing mums to complete their work within their own time has been shown time and time again to bolster productivity.
In the LaTrobe University study, researchers looked at the relationship between work arrangements and parents’ mental health, and found that formal flexible work arrangements were associated with less occupational fatigue and burnout for both genders. It’s important to note here that informal ‘ad-hoc’ strategies were associated with worse mental health outcomes for parents including higher rates of occupational fatigue, psychological distress and burnout. By formalising flexible working agreements, mothers have the stability to get on with their day-to-day work, eliminating any stress and confusion that may arise.
Providing suitable digital support goes hand in hand with flexibility. Digital support that enables mums to log on and keep on top of their work while being with their kids is increasingly common in workplaces, and allows mums to complete their allocated workload in their own time.
A final thought to consider – lead by example. Tackle workplace discrimination in workplace policies such as parental leave and flexible leave arrangements to encourage inclusion. Utilise your own flexible working policies and encourage your leadership to do the same. Leading by example in supporting working mothers, can have a huge impact on participation rates, and ultimately help you to attract and retain quality employees in the long run.