Hey, boss: Moms get it done. Here's how to keep them around

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Working Moms have a lot going on, but there are some states that appear to be more helpful to them than others. Wallethub shared a study of the best and worst and Keri Lumm (@thekerilumm) shares the highlights.
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When Megan Haney dropped off her newborn at daycare for the first time, she didn’t feel the same level of anxiety as many American moms. Daughter Kennedy was only a 90-second walk away from Haney’s office. 

During what’s often an emotionally wrecked day of separation anxiety, this mom fresh off maternity leave took comfort knowing she could actually see how her 5-month-old baby was handling her new environment.

Haney works at Campbell Soup Company’s Camden, N.J., campus, with on-site childcare. The associate director of communications now has two daughters in daycare there.

Campbell is one of few companies in the nation creating a company culture with moms in mind — something more businesses might want to consider, as a majority of mothers now work outside the home, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In 2016, 70.5% of moms were working or looking for work, and of those employed more than 76% worked full time. 

“Mothers are equally as — and sometimes more productive — at work than those without children and fathers,” said Julie A. Kmec, professor of sociology at Washington State University, who studied “pro-work” behavior such as effort, intensity and engagement.

Still, moms are known to face a “mommy tax,” while dads enjoy fatherhood bonuses. Moms on average see a 4% decrease in income per child, while dads see a 6% increase, University of Massachusetts sociology professor Michelle Budig reported in 2014.

Having a child impacts mothers professionally more than fathers. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data from 2016, employed moms with young children were less likely to work full time than those with older children, while employed dads were equally likely to work full time, regardless of the age of their children. 

How to make work better

Bosses, managers and co-workers can tap into the talent of employees who become moms by creating a supportive work environment. 

Here are a few tips from Julia Beck, founder of It’s Working Project, which helps develop strategies for bringing young families back to work:

  • Create and support a policy that no meetings begin after 4 p.m. “This eliminates the chaos around getting out of work to pick up a child from daycare or relieve a sitter,” Beck said.
  • Offer a comfortable room for pumping moms returning to work with seating, a refrigerator and a hospital-grade breast pump.
  • Have pride knowing you have a diverse range of talent, including moms, and praise them internally and externally. 
  • Lead by example — “rather than simply putting some good ideas into the HR handbook, live them,” Beck said. 
  • Don’t only think of new motherhood. Also, recognize when moms are living in the “sandwich years” — raising children and taking care of aging parents. 

Katie Bethell, founder and executive director of Paid Family and Medical Leave for Everyone in the U.S., also encourages executives to take leave when they need it. That way, when a mom has to adjust her schedule to meet the needs of her family, she doesn’t feel guilty or fear punishment.

“Fostering a culture of open communication about work and family responsibilities builds a workplace environment where everyone can thrive,” Bethell said. 

Want to really support moms? Offer excellent paid family leave policies that apply to caregiving for new babies and elderly family members. Two weeks doesn’t cut it, Bethell said.  

You might also be interested in:

  • 100 best companies for mom
  • Americans don’t breastfeed long. Here’s why
  • Best and worst states for working moms
  • women.usatoday.com

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Nanci Bergman, mom to 9-year-old Dalton and CEO of ACCENT, says prioritized to-do lists help her stay on task.

Ashley May documented her pregnancy on Due Date. The mom to a now 1-year-old is also the force behind USA TODAY’s Mom Bod series, encouraging women to love their postpartum bodies. Follow her on Twitter: @AshleyMayTweets

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