This Mother’s Day, let’s go beyond flowers and candy to give working moms the gift of well-being with mental health support.
Mother’s Day is almost here, making this a great time to show all the moms in our lives how much we value them. In the workplace, this doesn’t mean giving flowers or gifts, but rather it means taking time to evaluate how our practices and culture support mothers’ overall well-being, in and out of the office.
It’s increasingly clear that mental health is just as important for well-being as physical health. And mental well-being is vital for everyone in our working population, since addressing anxiety, depression, loneliness, and other mental health issues leads to a more engaged, healthy workforce overall. It’s also important for working moms in particular — everyone knows moms are busy, but leaders and HR professionals should ask themselves, what are we doing to go beyond simple gestures? How can we enact meaningful approaches to mental well-being, and are we being mindful of how those approaches support the mothers in our workforce?
Working moms face unique challenges, so mental health support that meets their needs is important for a number of reasons:
The balancing act. Did you know that 70% of mothers with children under age 18 are actively in the workforce today, with over 75% of those mothers employed full-time? Working moms are therefore a greater share of our workforce, and a significant portion are the primary breadwinners in their family—totaling 42% of working mothers. Balancing work and family remains challenging, however, with 43% of full-time-employed moms saying they don’t spend enough time with their kids. Moms often feel guilty about not being with their children but also about not being fully engaged at work, or maybe not volunteering to take a tough but exciting assignment. This catch-22 results in stress and anxiety, and as employers and HR professionals, we need to be aware of how our working moms are grappling with the balancing of work and family.
Depression rates in women. Depression is an important mental health issue in the workplace—it’s estimated to cost American businesses over $200 billion a year in medical costs and lost productivity. The medical community is finding that women are twice as likely as men to experience symptoms of depression, and a specific risk for mothers, post-partum depression, is becoming de-stigmatized and discussed more openly, which is a welcome development. It’s therefore crucial for employers to offer mental health benefits to show empathy with their female population. As we said, all employees need mental health support for overall well-being, but organizations should be attuned to women’s health issues and make sure that mental health benefits are available. In fact, in our latest State of Workplace Empathy Study, 94% of women said that mental health benefits demonstrate empathy.
The need for flexibility. When a child gets sick, parents need to adjust their schedules to stay home or take them to the doctor. And women are taking care of not only their kids, but elderly relatives too—up to 68% of family caregivers are women, according to a recent study. So, this slice of the Sandwich Generation is facing multiple pressures with caring for family members while also working. One of the main causes of absenteeism is missing work to care for family members, such as children who have to stay home from school or daycare. Absenteeism is a major cost to employers, estimated at over $23 billion a year. Employers can address this issue with flexible scheduling and remote working options, which allow working moms to be home with family members and still be able to work. In fact, flexible work options ranked as the most empathetic employee benefit in our 2019 State of Workplace Empathy Study. Helping working mothers with flexible schedules and work location options can significantly improve their stress and also increase productivity for your organization.
Working mothers are a vital component of our workforce, and we should understand and value their mental well-being. Companies that make mental health a priority will have an edge above the competition in this tight labor market. With Mother’s Day right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to think about what we as employers can do — and then carry those ideas through the entire year.
Learn more about the importance of mental health in the workplace and check out our infographic below.