Picture this: it’s your first day at a new company. And you’re onboarding thousands of miles away from HQ and meeting everyone in the company via Zoom. At the tail end of day 1, you’re geared up and ready for your last meeting with the MVP – your new CEO.
Right before the meeting, you remind each family member that you’re working. And you get everyone to agree to the terms: NO shouting, NO fighting, NO kitchen access (because that’s where you’re working), NO running down the stairs like a pack of wild horses, NO interruptions, NO exceptions.
As the meeting starts, you take a deep breath hoping that “the talk” was enough. Then, enter stage left: the children and the dog. All scrambling to find art supplies for an emergency school project that most certainly can’t wait another 18 minutes.
Are you cringing yet? Because I sure was!
Fostering a family-first culture
It was my first time meeting Chris Ronzio (our CEO here at Trainual). He’d asked me a question just as my kids entered the room. Panic set in, and I stumbled all over my words. My face was beet red. And I was pretty sure this was the worst first impression I could leave.
“I’m so sorry,” I said as I tried to reason or explain the situation. But the words weren’t necessary.
Chris smiled real big, let out a friendly “hello,” and engaged the kids in conversation. They were so happy to meet him. And my Mamma heart was at ease as he got to know my kids (screaming, laughing, and all) and me.
I’ve now been here a few months, and I’m yet to meet someone who doesn’t share Chris’ family-first ideals.
Ariana Morales, our Office Manager and mother of 4, explains that “[Trainual’s] leadership is great with understanding that we’re humans. And we have responsibilities outside the office as well as in it.”
As the Office Manager, Ariana splits her time in-office and remote. Because from day 1, she expressed her concern about raising kids. So, she and Chris set up a flexible working schedule where she works from our company hub until roughly 2 pm. Then, clocks the rest of her day at home.
“This autonomy drives me to do whatever it takes for the company,” Ariana shared with me. “They’re not just investing in me as an employee but my family. I love caring for mi familia. So, for me, this flexibility makes it easy to give 150% to Trainual.”
But for most working moms, family-first cultures are all hype and no substance.
What it’s like for most working moms
In recent years, the average mom works the equivalent of 2.5 full-time jobs between their career and parenting (that’s 98 hours per week). And they only have 67 minutes to themselves a day – which is little over a lunch break.
And that’s not even considering the hours spent parenting and working simultaneously. Cringing at the sound of every book drop, slammed door, or little voice behind the door calling for mommy while navigating their regular workload.
But the workload isn’t the only problem. Since life went remote, moms are in higher demand – balancing motherhood and work at all hours of the day. And as a result, they’re now 3x more likely to experience anxiety or depression.
In fact, Usha Chinnathambi, Trainual’s Senior Software Engineer and mother of 2, is the first to say, “it’s not always easy to be a working mom. Especially in this covid era. My daughter is in kindergarten and trying to do her online school by herself. So, I have to make sure I don’t miss my meetings while also helping her with her classes. And once work and school are done, there are a thousand other things that need to get done. So, the work never really ends.”
The cost of not supporting moms
Let’s zoom out a moment and look at the big picture. My knee-jerk reaction was to find an excuse or reason that justified an interaction that seemed perfectly natural to my kids. And I kept coming back to that Trainual is just the exception.
And I have to believe this stems from years of workplace conditioning: home-life is for home. Work-life is for work. And the 2 just don’t mix.
But it’s 2021. Not only do work and life mix – they are living under the same roof! And a family-first culture like Trainual’s has to be the rule, not the exception.
That’s not to say that flexibility isn’t hard (it is). Especially for small businesses that need to get work done to move the business forward. And bodies in seats to make that happen. I get it. Frankly, taking time out of your day to accommodate family matters probably feels daunting and super costly.
But, what about the cost of doing nothing? AKA unhappy and burnt-out moms.
Unhappy employees tend to achieve less, call out more, and work fewer hours. Meaning, rigidity only creates a “minimum output” culture. So, show me one SMB that can afford to have minimum output while trying to scale. (I’ll wait.)
4 ways your company can offer support
There has never been a time better than right now to create a culture that supports #momlife. COVID-19 took our (somewhat) neatly packaged work-life balance box and flipped it upside down.
So, here’s 4 easy ways you can start supporting moms immediately (and help them get that balance back):
Offer parental leave
Perhaps the most obvious step you can take to better support moms is to create a generous parental leave policy. But really, there’s no better way to support new or expecting moms!
This policy gives women the information, they need to plan and prepare for the beautiful, challenged-filled days of motherhood. Before their due date.
My proof? Our Director of Marketing and mom of one, Jami Hartmann, joined the team 6 months pregnant. And our parental leave policy helped alleviate some of the stress of starting a new job while preparing to become a mother.
Bare minimum, your policy should include:
- Who it covers
- How long the leave is
- What the compensation looks like
- How to arrange the leave
👉 Haven’t created a parental leave policy for your company yet? Get started with our free parental leave policy template.
Show a little empathy
With moms working from home, disruptions are inevitable. And speaking on behalf of all working moms, we could use a bit of empathy (especially right now).
Meaning, when our kids come scrambling into the background of a Zoom call, please don’t sigh in frustration, ignore the disruption, or sneak a snide remark. We’re embarrassed enough as it is. And definitely don’t ask us to be “better prepared” in the future. It has nothing to do with preparation.
Instead, smile and give us a nod that says, “it’s okay – do what you’ve got to do.” (No crossed arms or eyebrows.) And don’t be afraid to acknowledge the little faces popping up on the screen. Because, between you and me, that’s what working moms need in these situations.
Being a mom doesn’t stop when you clock in at work. And there are tons of times when doctor appointments or school events happen during working hours. And the last thing moms want is for those responsibilities to eat up their paid vacation time. (Believe me, they’re no vacation.)
So, try installing flexible working hours. That way, it’s not a big deal for moms to step away for a few hours to take care of their kids. They can just make up the lost hours later in the week.
For example, school start and end-times are constantly changing with the ongoing pandemic. And they don’t always fit the normal 9-to-5 schedule.
So, reschedule meetings to accommodate pick-up times (and let moms bring their kids back to the office if needed). Or, if the meeting can’t be rescheduled, encourage moms to gracefully exit the meeting early to do their thing. It really can be that simple.
🔥 Tip: If you don’t have a flexible working hours policy written out, you don’t have to start from scratch. Our free template will help you get it started! Grab our free flexible working hours policy template.
Keep a conversation going
This one has 2 parts: a moms-only conversation and a larger conversation.
For the moms-only conversation, make an affinity group (kind of like a club). This way, you’re providing a safe space for your working moms to openly talk about their experiences, challenges, and successes with people who get it.
This is a huge booster for morale. In fact, when I asked Kelsey Curzon, Trainual’s Senior Accountant and mother of 2, about our groups, she couldn’t stop raving.
“I love that I’m able to pursue a career and be a mom. And that the overlap of those 2 things is celebrated at Trainual,” she told me. “It’s so nice to feel like I don’t have to hide part of my life from the company I work for.”
And for the larger conversation, involve your leadership team at the very least. While some of the strategies (like parental leave and flexible working hours) are universal, others are not. So, provide a space where your moms can openly ask for what they need.
But remember, this conversation goes both ways. So, don’t be afraid to outright ask your working moms how things are going and what they need.
Then, take a genuine interest in their answers. After all, if you don’t know what’s happening in your working mom’s lives, how can you possibly support them?