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Six Ways Healthcare Employers Can Support Working Mothers

Six Ways Healthcare Providers Can Support Working Mothers
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As the market for top talent continues to shrink, healthcare workers are in a stronger position than ever to find a facility that meets their personal and professional needs. Healthcare is already one of the most flexible workplaces, with hours and shifts that can accommodate most. But for working mothers, employers can to go beyond scheduling to help women find better support and longevity in the workplace.

The working mother labor force

At almost half the US labor force, women at work are driving employment in healthcare and almost all other fields. But as their numbers rise in the workforce, so does the amount of time they devote to caring for their children. Recent statistics show the average mother, beyond her responsibilities on the job, devotes an additional 14 hours per week to family responsibilities.

It’s estimated 70% of mothers with children under 18 are part of the workforce. Of that group, 75% work full-time. In addition, mothers are the primary or sole earners in 40% of households with children under 18. Working mothers whose employers help them balance their personal and professional roles and responsibilities are likely to see happier, engaged employees and higher levels of retention.

Supporting working moms

Healthcare employers may be in a unique position to offer some of the support and services working mothers need. Here are 6 ways healthcare providers can help.

Welcome nursing mothers

For mothers of newborns, lactation areas offer the privacy and time needed to express for their child. Beyond the legal requirement to allow for breastfeeding, mothers, children, and healthcare facilities benefit. Recent data shows mothers with access to lactation on the job miss work less often. Their babies are healthier overall, which can lower healthcare costs. A two-year study revealed significant savings in healthcare costs and a reduction in absenteeism.  Access to lactation consultants, who may be on staff, put healthcare providers ahead of the curve when providing support for nursing mothers.

Offer stress management

Healthcare employees work in a stress-heavy environment. For new and established mothers, the pressure of work/life balance can sometimes become overwhelming. Access to stress management training and techniques can help mothers in times of need and can benefit the institution. Reduced sick days, higher engagement, and commitment to the facility could be the result of offering avenues to learn how to manage and minimize stress, whether personal or professional. Again, many institutions have staff on hand who can be of assistance to offer advice if access is provided. For those who don’t, external resources are available to help workers find balance.

Provide financial wellness assistance

Mothers juggle a host of responsibilities, but financial issues can be a stress-inducing challenge. Access to financial wellness training and advice can help support new moms in transition through mothers planning for college, and almost everyone in between. For mothers who have student loan debt, are looking to buy a home, or even planning their long-term retirement strategy, financial wellness programs are becoming a much asked-for benefit for employees.  Outside resources are readily available, some through an institution’s 401(k) planner.

Offer support groups

Your facility may be rife with working moms looking for help, advice, or a place to vent. Support groups within the facility, organically created by mothers, or developed by the institution itself, can be a valuable resource. These groups can meet regularly to share tips, talk about solutions, and create a sense of camaraderie. Facilitators who may be on staff can help the group work toward positive outcomes and solution-driven discussions.

Make sure moms have time for self-care

New mothers particularly are keeping dozens of balls in the air simultaneously. As they transition back to the workplace after leave, or when family pressure shifts priorities for any mother, institutions can provide a bit of respite. Make sure managers require staff to take their lunch and break times – a breather not only revitalizes, it demonstrates you value every worker and her contribution. Remind staff that there are resources available to help them over a rough patch, or for long-term goals and planning. As many offerings as your institution may offer, they’re only worthwhile if employees utilize them. Managers who model positive behaviors (like not eating lunch at their desks) help staffers see self-care is a priority.

Leverage flexible scheduling to mom’s advantage

Again, hospitals are in a unique position to allow mothers flexibility when it comes to scheduling. Some moms may need a reduced schedule to balance work and family; others may be looking at shift or day changes. For hospitals and larger healthcare providers, this can be an easy fix. For smaller institutions, part-time hours or job-share opportunities can be the difference between losing talent or retaining them until priorities readjust.

Healthcare providers can provide support and resources for working mothers in a variety of ways. All it takes is some planning and a commitment to assuring these valued contributors have what they need to balance work and family.

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About Riia O'Donnell

Riia O’Donnell has over 20 year’s hands-on experience in all aspects of the Human Resource function. Beginning as a recruiter, she grew to lead in all areas of HR, including employee training and development, legal compliance, benefits administration, compensation evaluation, and staff management. She has been a contributing writer for a wealth of HR, training, and small business websites for the past 7 years. Connect with Riia on Twitter at @RiiaOD.