Millions of Americans have left the workforce due to the ongoing public health crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic. Women were particularly impacted due to school and daycare closures forced many to step into a primary caretaker role. With new variants emerging and pediatric vaccinations lagging, many companies are still at risk of losing some of their best and brightest employees to childcare needs.
Through my coaching work with ambitious, career-minded mothers and my own experience as a mom in the corporate world, I have gained valuable insights about what companies can do to make their current culture more welcoming to women with children. Below are five suggestions that can help companies improve their retention rates for working moms.
Find out what the problems are.
One of the best ways to find out how you can make your company more accommodating to new and expectant moms is to ask them! The easiest way to do this is to simply administer a survey. Ask open ended questions so you can find out more about the challenges they face and which issues are the most important to them during this time. If possible, allow them to give their opinion anonymously so they can share their opinions without worrying about retribution.
Revamp your policies and benefits.
Review the results of the survey and translate them into action as quickly as possible. Perhaps the results show that your maternity leave offering is too short, or that a more flexible work schedule is needed. The company can also evaluate whether it would be best to change their employee performance evaluations from time-oriented to more task-oriented.
Listening to your employees – and most importantly – implementing responsive changes can not only help improve your business but also improve both your recruitment and retention of women.
Start a mentorship program.
A study published by McKinsey, titled ‘Women in the Workplace 2020’, reveals that women may face significant roadblocks in the workplace without the right mentorship and sponsorship opportunities. A sponsor can amplify the voice of lower level employees, while a mentor can help guide someone towards their career goals.
An official company mentor program is an excellent way for you to capitalize on your greatest resource, your employees. It also demonstrates the company’s commitment to nurturing their talent. Employees are likely to be more loyal and productive when companies actively invest in their professional development.
Create an employee reward and recognition program.
Every employee wants to be acknowledged for their hard work. This is particularly true for pre and postpartum employees who may be feeling unappreciated or invisible – especially if they are working remotely. If possible, create a monthly reward and recognition program for outstanding employees. This simple and straightforward strategy will foster a positive work culture and inspire employees to improve their work ethic. Working mothers will also enjoy the positive reinforcement because their efforts can still be acknowledged publicly even if they are working from home.
Close the wage gap.
A large gender pay gap impacts women across all socioeconomic and racial groups in almost every industry. Your company can take a stand and be a true advocate by closing the wage gap. By rectifying any discrepancies in the salary and benefits between your male and female employees, you make a clear statement that you acknowledge inequality and strive to be an agent for change. Women in your company will be more likely to remain loyal because they’re receiving equal pay for equal work and because they see your efforts to do better.
Make it easier for working moms to progress in their career.
Are your female employees anxious about potentially losing their job or a chance at a promotion because they used their maternity leave? One of the best tips for retaining mothers is to develop tools and create opportunities that will allow them to advance their careers.
Appreciate Your Employees and They’ll Appreciate You
I’m truly convinced that no one works harder than a busy mom. With the right strategies and support, your business can establish a thriving work environment for all of its workers. Being thoughtful and responsive to the unique challenges that working mothers face will strengthen your company in the short and long term.