According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 69.9 percent of women working have children under age 18. Pew Research Center also reports that 40 percent of all households with children under the age of 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income for the family. This leaves many hardworking moms asking the question, “How do I discuss work flexibility with my employer so I can better balance work and mom duties?”
Moms in the workforce need to learn about what to expect from their employers and how to ask for it. Tonya Lain, Regional Vice President at Adecco, a leading human resources solutions company, speaks to PINK on the struggles working moms face and how to professionally ask for flexibility at work.
Q: How do new moms discuss work flexibility with their employer? Do your research. You may be able to find information about your company’s guidelines on flexible working arrangements in the employee handbook. Also, consider consulting with other colleagues in the company who have successfully negotiated a more flexible work schedule. This will allow you to develop a proposal based on what’s been done and what’s possible.
Make it work for everyone. Think carefully about what arrangement would produce the best results for you and your employer – whether it’s working from home three days a week or coming in later in the morning, allowing you to take your kids to school. Consider how your employer will benefit as well and structure your proposal around that. Will those two hours you gain from not commuting give you more time in the day? Focus your discussion on how a flexible schedule will make you a better, more productive employee and the benefits the company will receive as a result.
Establish quality control. Approach your employer with your research and considerations and recommend periodic checkpoints to ease any doubts. Focus the conversation on productivity and continuity of service, rather than the reasons for the request. You may also want to suggest a trial period where both parties test the new schedule for a month to three months before committing to anything long term.
Q: How do you convince a boss that working from home is more productive? Studies show that working from home has proven to increase productivity. Just eliminating a commute alone can add anywhere from one to three hours of work time every day. It also allows you to hone in on what you’re trying to accomplish while forgoing workplace distractions.
Q: If a current job doesn’t allow flexibility for the new role as a mom, what companies do you suggest to work with? While every company follows unique protocols on full-time flex-work, there are some industries that allow for more fallibility because of its nature. Some examples include:
Accounting: Although high-stress levels can come in waves in the accounting profession, especially during audit and tax seasons or end of the fiscal year when accountants can put in unusually long hours, the off-seasons can offer much more flexibility, allowing greater lead way to balance your work-life needs.
Web Developers/Programmers: Creating and executing designs can be a heavy and demanding lift, but since a lot of this type of work can be done remotely – provided you have the proper programs/equipment and guidance – it also gives the flexibility of being able to work from home or destinations that may not be close to the office or client.
Nurses: Nurses certainly have an important and oftentimes stressful job. However, the flexibility to staggered shifts can help accommodate other responsibilities or hobbies you may need to tend to.
Sales Representative: Sales representative use their gift of speech to help achieve goals – luckily this creates a level of flexibility since a lot of this work can be done via email or phone. It allows them the freedom to work from almost anywhere; this profession also often has non-traditional work which can add another layer of flexibility when trying to balance work and personal life responsibilities.
Public Relations: With the help of technology, telecommuting allows publicists to work virtually from anywhere. From phone conferences, video capabilities, and email, a publicist can stay up-to-date on client requests and happenings in the office.
Q: Are you aware of companies that employ at-home employees? More companies are joining the trend of allowing employees to work for from home. However, each company follows unique protocols regarding who is allowed this privilege.
Q: Mompreneurs versus full-time flex-moms — What’s on the rise and where do you see each of these going in the near future? There is tremendous crossover between mompreneurs and full-time flex-moms in today’s workforce. ‘Mompreneur’ was introduced to describe mothers who took on their own businesses because it allowed for flexibility. This model offers some control over how often they commute and where meetings occur. This is a similar sentiment of working from home and having a flexible work schedule. Currently, 69.9 percent of women working have children under age 18, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These mothers, along with their spouses, are faced with the continued challenge of balancing work responsibilities and raising children. When parents are permitted to telecommute a few days a week or have a flexible schedule, they’re able to do both the professional and personal. We can only expect ‘mompreneurs’ to become more popular; however, as women make their way to executive positions and continue to raise families, we’ll see more companies accept flexible work schedules.
Photo by Photographee