Guest blog by New Benefits
We have all recognized and experienced the difficulties of working during the COVID-19 pandemic, but one of the more vulnerable employee populations has been working mothers. While waves of employees have left their jobs in search of better pay and benefits, working mothers (more so than other employee caregivers) have left the workforce completely.
Worn down from lack of support and pandemic-related childcare challenges, the female employees who also take on the majority of parenting responsibilities are burning out at rapid rates. More than 3 million have left their jobs during the pandemic.
Throughout the last 18 months and moving into long-term strategy for the office, employers have prioritized two things: maintaining productivity and protecting their employees. In order to do both effectively, employers must provide resources beyond paid time off and childcare subsidies.
Here are non-insured (or voluntary) benefits employers should implement to support working mothers:
More than 50 million Americans serve as unpaid caregivers to family members or loved ones, many of whom belong to the sandwich generation – caring for their aging parents while still raising children.
Employees who double as caregivers spend 10 to 20 hours a week on managing caregiving responsibilities like housekeeping, personal care, and organizing finances on top of their work and parenting duties. Unsurprisingly, working caregivers often burnout. They may start by requesting flexible hours or part-time work before fully leaving the workforce.
Caregiver Support resources can cover a wide range of needs, like an online platform to condense and organize appointments and records, a service for hiring a helping hand when needed, and even assistance with creating legal documents like a living will or healthcare directive.
Providing support beyond flexible hours takes a load off the caregiving plate, giving employees the energy and freedom to be fully present during work hours.
Childcare Resources and Referrals
One of the greater challenges for working mothers is ensuring their children are in good care during the workday, especially for young children and summer months. But finding reputable childcare and after school programs requires a lot of time and research.
A resource and referral program gives employees a dedicated concierge to do all the heavy lifting. The concierge has access to a database of verified daycare facilities, after school programs, summer camps, and specialty schools. Employees can also find referrals for housekeeping, lawn maintenance, and other issues overfilling their schedules.
Again, any service taking pressure off parenting helps working mothers give their all both at home and the workplace.
Fertility, Surrogacy, and Adoption Assistance
Employees struggling to grow their families are already under a lot of pressure. Then you add the emotional and financial stress of fertility treatments, adoption, surrogacy, or egg donation.
Offering family-building resources can provide great relief for employees in this situation, and it doesn’t have to mean fully covering the cost of IVF or adoption if the employer can’t afford it. There are other cost-effective services creating access to discounted IVF medications and egg freezing, one-on-one coaching throughout the process, and even grief counseling to manage the emotional toll.
Not only can providing these resources as an employee benefit help reduce the financial burden, it also shows the employer values their employees’ desire to have a family on top of a career (which a lot of workers often don’t feel).
Anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns have risen across the workforce these last couple years. Working mothers specifically have experienced severe stress with trying to juggle children at home, virtual school, and remote work. Some women have suffered guilt and shame over not being able to fully give their all to their jobs or families.
While employers should verbally express their support and understanding for employees feeling overwhelmed, they must take the next step to provide mental health resources. Virtual therapy, meditation apps, and EAPs have all grown in popularity. But not everyone is ready to talk to someone about their struggles.
LifeSpeak is a digital platform with an extensive library of videos, blogs, and downloadable content from leading experts in a variety of mental health and well-being topics. The service provides a non-intimidating first step for working mothers to explore information on managing stress in teens, navigating caregiving, and reducing anxiety.
Empower Mothers in the Workforce
A parent may choose to voluntarily leave their job to focus on raising children, but it needs to remain just that: a choice. Women have added $2 trillion to the U.S. economy since 1970 just by joining the workforce. We cannot afford to lose valuable employees due to a lack of support from their employers.