TIP TUESDAY: Improving the Workplace for Working Parents

By Jason Mau, Attorney, Greener Burke Shoemaker Oberrecht P.A. for HR Daily Advisor online

Acknowledging Challenges to Working Parents

Gathering data from many credible national sources, a recent study focused on three main issues that are very important to working mothers (and fathers): child care, career opportunities, and work-life balance. Child care took into account quality and cost as well as pediatricians per capita and included the quality of local school systems. (A questionable metric in this category that was given as much weight as cost was the share of accredited childcare centers, which clearly favors more densely populated states.) Career opportunities included metrics for any gender pay gap, the median salary for women, the gender-representation gap in different sectors, the female unemployment rate, and the ratio of female to male executives. Work-life balance was split between parental leave policies, the length of female employees’ workweek, and their average commuting time.working parents

Regardless of the rankings, the study helps illustrate the overall challenges to working mothers in general. Nobody wants to be given little opportunity to succeed in the workplace or have few options for quality child care during working hours.

The most common policies you should consider, and maybe the least complicated to adopt:

Healthcare benefits. Many companies already offer the type of healthcare benefits that are supportive of employees and their families. Of course, an affordable healthcare plan is a primary benefit for all mothers. Every family is different, but everyone appreciates economy. Mothers also appreciate quality options, so companies that provide cafeteria-style benefits may be attractive to families looking for a fair plan that works best for them. The most common option is a tax-deferred dependent care savings account.An employee assistance plan (EAP) can also be a great resource for mothers. The best EAPs extend counseling options to immediate family members and offer counseling for all life events to help with family stresses that may arise throughout motherhood. That allows employees to locate the resources they need to manage many daily demands.

Flexible work schedule. Allowing employees more flexibility in their schedules can help them handle their day-to-day responsibilities. Traditionally, mothers have been the parent primarily responsible for much of the daily caregiving in the family, but in modern society, both parents are likely employed. Many companies recognize that outdated scheduling structures generate unnecessary stress for employees when it comes to their daily caregiving responsibilities. By focusing on time management and an updated understanding of productivity, you can be confident in the long-term results of providing scheduling options that include flexible start and stop times, compressed workweeks, and telecommuting.

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