Balancing work and motherhood has been a hot topic in the news recently. First, working mom Katharine Zaleski wrote an open letter to “all the mothers [she] used to work with” apologizing to them for her attitude towards their work-life balance.
A week later, telecom giant Vodafone Group announced it will offer a minimum of 16 weeks of paid maternity leave to new mothers, with the option to work reduced hours while earning their full salary for an additional six months.
These events speak volumes for the ground gained by women in the workplace, but there is always room for improvement. Larger companies will likely start reassessing their policies towards maternity leave in order to attract and retain top talent, but what about small companies? Start-ups don’t have the budget or the resources to compete with corporations in this area, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be competitive when it comes to benefits. Here are a few ways your company can become more female-friendly.
Offer Work-from-Home Days
This is a great option because it gives female employees the best of both worlds. They can be home with their baby without having to worry about getting their work done. Of course, this isn’t a viable option for every type of business, but it can work for many companies.
Consider allowing employees to work from home on days following holidays and bad weather days. You can also let employees WFH on days when their daycare or schools might be closed but your office is still open, such as Spring Break. Not forcing moms to have to take paid time off or pay for child care when they wouldn’t otherwise have to will show them that you value their personal time. This, in turn, will make them more likely to respect you as a leader and want to do a good job.
On average, Americans spend nearly $12,000 a year on childcare. This can be a huge burden on finances and can cause new moms to seek part-time jobs or jobs with flexible schedules to avoid these costs. Many larger companies have the luxury of providing on-site day care, which is unfortunately out-of-reach for most small business owners.
You could offer to pay for part, or, if it fits your budget, all of child care for employees who need it. If you work out of your home with your employees, consider letting moms bring their kids with them. Granted, this will only work in some circumstances, but it can be a huge help to your employees.
Offer Concierge Services
Running errands after work can add an extra hour or two onto the day, and that’s something that no employee wants to have to deal with after clocking eight hours. That’s why many companies are starting to offer concierge services for their employees. From picking up dry cleaning to having their car serviced, this offering can save employees valuable hours.
If you can’t afford to hire a concierge company, consider hiring a part-time employee to run these errands. If you can’t justify this cost, you could also compile a list of local companies who offer pick-up and delivery services to give to your employees as references.
When it comes to benefits for working moms, it’s simple: offer flexibility. Take some time to talk to your female employees and ask them how you could improve your benefits. It will take time, but it will make you a stronger company – and a stronger leader – in the long run.