One of the most popular videos making the rounds on computer screens this Mother's Day is about moms supporting their kids toward Olympic gold. The heart-tugging images from Procter & Gamble's "Best Job" video show dedicated mothers up before sunrise, awakening sleepy children and driving them to pre-dawn sports practices, and then enjoying the spoils years later in the stands of the big games.
Bravo, Mom!The mom Olympics for most mothers are not quite so literal, but they're no less an athletic event. Ask anyone who's managed the 7 a.m. breakfast assembly line, the 8 a.m. carpool, and the 3 p.m. "delivering forgotten sneakers while on a conference call" event, and they'll tell you the job is as much an Olympic sport as the bobsled, the balance beam, and the decathlon combined.
For the estimated 61% of American moms who are employed outside the home, working motherhood (admittedly a redundant term) is a job of epic proportions. Fortunately, employers are taking note. Many are reaffirming the value of their employed parents and providing support by embracing such things as child care, flex time, and remote attendance as essential components of the work/life equation.
The organizational payoffs of such family-friendly philosophies are substantial. A 2012 survey by Bright Horizons® and Horizons Workforce Consulting found that child care and back-up care had a significant impact on employee performance. More than three-quarters of surveyed employees reported child care as among the top benefits their employers offered, with most calling it not only the key to getting to work, but the linchpin to being able to focus on the job and be productive.
Looking ForwardBut there's still work to do.
Last fall, as a follow-up to their What Moms Think: Career vs. Paycheck study, the Working Mother Research Institute investigated the important question, What Moms Choose: Stay at Home or at Work? The 2011 survey showed a majority of moms still struggling to balance career and motherhood, and highlighted what it called the "Five Marching Orders for Employers:"
- Establish a culture of trust
- Focus on being family friendly
- Provide flexibility
- Allow employees to use paid sick leave to care for a sick child
- Provide predictable work hours
It's a worthwhile goal and we're optimistic. In the meantime, we'll hope for some short-term support this weekend in the form of chocolates, breakfast in bed, and a sink emptied of all its dishes.