Support for working mums


4th May, 2021

How businesses can better support working mums

As a business owner, it’s not just your own mother you should be looking out for this Mother’s Day, but all the mums you work with, writes Nina Hendy.

As Mother’s Day approaches, businesses are being urged to consider what they can do to support mums in the workplace.

Australian Bureau of Statistics reveals that 53 percent of all Australian mothers have a full-time or part-time job.

And while working women are often seen as being able to do it all, a study by La Trobe University found working mothers who worked longer hours report the worst mental health of all participants.

Widespread closures of schools and offices over the past year due to the pandemic and encouraging people to stay at home while job uncertainty remains a key concern has only added to the pressure.

Key takeaways:

  • Businesses are being encouraged to support working mothers
  • Productivity and loyalty can be improved when workplaces better support working mums
  • Workplace support from businesses can come in many forms

Last week, the Morrison government committed to a $1.7 billion childcare boost, which is set to be included in next week’s Federal Budget announcements and aims to encourage more women to return to work.

Under the changes announced on Sunday, the childcare subsidy for families with two or more children aged five and under will increase to up to 95 percent, up from the maximum of 85 percent where it is currently.

While the announcement was well timed just a week out from Mother’s Day, Dr Frank Chow, a psychiatrist at 2OP Health believes that, rather than acknowledging mums just on Mother’s Day, it’s important to see and act on the value mums bring to the workplace every day.

So what can business owners do to better support working mums, and what benefits will it bring?

The benefits of supporting working mothers

Many businesses overlook the benefits that working mothers bring to businesses. Equally, working mums are eager for support, he says.

“Working mums and female leaders in small businesses undoubtedly add value to the workforce. Companies are more likely to be successful when a gender balance between men and women exist,” said Chow.

Mothers bring a different perspective from parental experience, which internally can lean to improved business innovation. By bringing working mums into the workplace, organisations encourage workplace diversity and gender equality, which in turn leads to improved sense of company culture.

Business leaders can help support working mums and their mental health by maintaining empathy and flexibility in the workplace, according to Chow.

“Providing a clear guidance of structure gives working mothers the stability to get on with their day-to-day work, eliminating any stress and confusion that may arise.

“Flexible working hours help mums better balance work and home lives, and help employers attract and retain employees in the long run.

“As a leader, the best support you can provide is to adjust their workload temporarily should they need additional time to cope while looking for additional support.”

What do mums want?

Working mums highly value being understood, supported and the ability to have a flexible workplace environment.

“Having the support of colleagues and their boss is important in this transition of juggling both career and parenthood,” said Chow.

“During a time with competing commitments, it’s important to make employees feel valued and understood, as working mums desire to maintain their professional career.

“Overall support from the organisation is crucial for mums to feel heard and supported. Company policies such as parental leave and flexible work arrangements, and actively encouraging more inclusive leadership can help life workforce participation rates for working mums.”

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4 ways to create better workplace environments for mums

  1. Introduce true flexibility: Flexibility doesn’t mean being allowed to leave 15 minutes early to pick up kids from school. Allowing mums to complete their work within their own time has been shown to bolster productivity.
  2. Childcare support: The cost of childcare is stressful and limits the number of hours a parent can work. Subsidised childcare can ease the financial burden on families.
  3. Lead by example: Tackle workplace discrimination in workplace policies such as parental leave and flexible leave arrangements to encourage inclusion. This can have a huge impact on participation rates.
  4. Better digital support: Providing the digital support that enables mums to log on and keep on top of their work while at being with their kids is increasingly common in workplaces.