4 Ways to Cultivate Moms in the Workplace
Career consultant Diana Henderson weighs in.
From Diana: Statistically speaking, 71.1% of mothers who have children under 18 years old are in the workforce, which far exceeds that of previous generations. It’s likely that your company’s employee demographic consists of many moms, regardless of industry, as they run the gamut of specialty and general positions.
Today, “working mom” can have very different meanings. For some, their dominant responsibility might be at home caring for their babies while also contributing greatly to the household income with a side hustle. Other working moms are full-time in employment and they’ve likely enlisted support to care for their kiddos during their work shift. And, of course, there are many versions of the two in between.
Moms can be among your most productive employees. I’ve had the pleasure of leading and serving alongside many of them—it’s as if they have an innate drive to make it all happen as efficiently and effectively as possible. Whether their ambition stems from pure desire, necessity or a combination of both, it’s important to harness this initiative to benefit them and the work they do.
Here are a few pointers, speaking from my experience with these wonder women. I’m truly blessed by those in my workplace who also wear the hat of mom.
Understand their motivations to work
Not all working moms are created equal. Some desire to develop a career that brings fulfillment and satisfaction beyond a contribution to the monthly bills. Others view their job as a means of provision. Whatever the motivation, your job as their leader is to discover it. What’s their “why” for working? To find out, ask questions: “What keeps you up at night?” “What are you most passionate about?” “If you could do anything you wanted, regardless of location and compensation, what would it be?” You’ll learn worlds about them in how they respond. There may also be subtleties to interpret such as body language, facial expressions or pauses.
Don’t just talk shop
Sure, there’s a job to get done, but people will work harder and smarter when they feel like they have a connection to their managers or colleagues. Take time to do more than just talk business. Get to know them. Ask them about their weekend plans, what their kids are up to, if they’re planning to take any family trips, etc. You’re showing that you care beyond their ability to perform and deliver on expectations. Sounds simple, but it makes a world of difference.
Realize that flexibility affords you loyalty
Nowadays, it’s rare that standard 8-5 jobs will allow you to leave work at work. Combine that with the responsibilities of a household and children, and a working mom may never be off-duty. I’ve found that offering flexibility can be life-changing. One of my employees leaves early on Fridays to spend time with her husband before picking up the kids from after-school care. Another mom gets in the office later each morning so she can do school drop-off instead of sending her kids on the bus. Does this impact productivity? You bet. In a positive way! The flexibility affords these moms the chance to tackle their priorities at home. Then, when they’re at work, they’re “on” and not distracted.
Reinforce the positive
One of the most impactful things I’ve learned in leadership is positive reinforcement. As humans, we’re all wired to desire affirmation—proven in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs—and moms don’t hear it enough. “You’re doing a great job” takes very little time to say and the result is priceless. To start, a simple smile and “thank you” can drive mothers to their best performance. Why you might ask? It’s a confidence boost. When they’re uplifted, everyone wins—if mama’s happy, everyone’s happy!
Image courtesy of Ivanka Trump. Illustration by Jonny Ruzzo.