4 ways employers can support working moms
Nowadays, working moms in Singapore and beyond are no longer forced to choose between pursuing their careers or raising children. Yet, there’s a lot of struggle that goes on behind the scene to balance these two areas of their lives. Whether it’s an employer who assumes that women of childbearing age can’t be promoted or the lack of flexibility in the workplace, it’s no wonder that many working moms crack under the pressure.
In this Pacific Prime Singapore article, we’ll tell you how to support working moms so that you won’t see talented female employees quit when they tell you they’re pregnant. The cherry on top? Not only will you retain stellar candidates and benefit from their skills, but you’ll also earn a name for yourself as a progressive employer who adapts to mothers’ needs and will be able to attract the best employees.
1. Understand the challenges faced by working moms
According to a Channel News Asia article, men and women between the ages of 25 and 29 in Singapore participate equally in the workforce at a participation rate of over 90%. However, the number dips for women in their 30s and 40s, with a difference of about 5 percentage points between men and women in their 40s. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that the median age of first-time mothers in Singapore is 30.3 and many women are also giving birth in their 40s.
As such, the first step employers like yourselves must take to support working moms is to understand the challenges that are causing mothers in the workforce to give up on their careers:
The “double burden” of women’s work
Even when both parties are working full-time, women shoulder more childcare duties than men. Research from the National University of Singapore (NUS), shows that mothers spend twice as much time with their young children compared with fathers on weekdays. While the gap is smaller on weekends, women still clock in more hours on childcare than men. Professor Jean Yeung, the study’s principal investigator, also added:
“As the children get older from birth to six years old, the father’s time with them increases only slightly.”
Discriminatory practices in the workplace
To add to this, women face discrimination in the workplace based on the assumption that they will have to take on more childcare duties if they get pregnant. When hiring, some employers even scrutinize women of childbearing age about their personal life and plans to have kids. There are also cases where employers don’t provide adequate maternity benefits or support, nor do they provide good childcare or family benefits.
COVID-19’s impact on mental health and caring duties
The pandemic also increased mental health burden. To put this into perspective, the Singapore Counselling Centre saw a 40% increase in the number of clients from 2019 to 2020, as per a Straits Time article. What’s more, the pandemic exacerbated the existing inequality that women face in their caring duties as well. Georgette Tan, President at United Women Singapore, said in an Ipsos article:
“The recent changes in working patterns due to the pandemic has put the spotlight on the gender inequality that exists on the domestic front, and highlighted the value of women and their contribution to society.”
2. Reduce discrimination by prioritizing diversity and inclusion
One thing working mothers want from their employers is not to be singled out and have their gender or family status impact their opportunity for growth in the organization. That being said, it’s not easy to reduce discrimination overnight. Start by providing diversity and inclusion training to your HR team and employees so they understand the value and contribution of a diverse workforce.
Here’s a quick guide on diversity and inclusion:
Once they understand the benefits of a diverse workforce, focus the training on female employees and working mothers, the challenges they face, and provide a guideline of do’s and don’ts for hiring (and interacting with them in the workplace). This could be things like what to avoid asking employees and how to respond when an employee tells you she’s pregnant, as well as how to support working moms when they return to work.
3. Be open to flexible working for a better work-life balance
Flexible working arrangements are becoming more and more popular because it enables employees to have some degree of freedom in when and where they work, and work around their personal and familial responsibilities. A working mom who needs to pick her kids up from school at 3 pm? No problem, she might be able to complete the rest of her work after her kids have gone to bed.
Further reading: Discover more about flexible working arrangements and how to implement them in our Global Employee Benefits Trends Report 2020.
4. Personalize your employee benefits offerings
Working moms have unique experiences and needs, so you’ll need to take this into account when designing employee benefits. However, as it’s impossible to please all employees with standard, one-size-fits-all employee benefits, you should look into flex benefits. Unlike traditional benefits, flex benefits allow employers to offer a variety of benefit options for employees to create a customized benefits plan.
Further reading: New to flex benefits? Check out our complete guide to flex benefits that covers everything from A to Z.
Get in touch with Pacific Prime Singapore today!
As a global health insurance brokerage and employee benefits specialist, Pacific Prime Singapore has over two decades of experience helping companies of all sizes and industries design and implement their employee benefits offerings, including maternity benefits aimed at supporting working moms. We are up to date with the latest employee benefits trends and industry practices, and utilize a tailored, technology-driven approach.
Want to learn more about what we offer or what we can do for you? Arrange a FREE consultation with a member of our corporate team today!