3. No more mental multi-tasking.
There are days when my brain switches topics literally by the minute - work, kid, work, kid, work, kid - but research shows that instead of making me Super Mom, such multi-tasking makes me Sloppy Mom. Both a 2009 study by Stanford researcher Clifford Nass and a 2010 study by French neuroscientists found that multi-tasking hurts us more than it helps us; instead of doing one or two tasks well, we do a ton of tasks poorly. Our brains just can't handle the overload. The solution? One thing at a time. When I'm at home, I should really be at home - both physically and mentally. Same deal when I'm at work.
3 Tips for Employers
1. Be as flexible as you can.
Giving employees options - to work from home, to change their hours, to work part-time, to job-share, etc. - isn't just a nice thing to do; it's good business sense. Offering flexibility helps to attract and maintain skilled, productive employees; build employee commitment and morale; and reduce unplanned absences due to stress and outside commitments. Additionally, a July 2013 study from the RSA Action and Research Centre in the U.K. found that flexible work situations ultimately result in cost savings due to increased productivity.
2. Offer support.
Too often female employees feel like they're drowning and yet say nothing. Fostering an environment with open communication channels and clear avenues for assistance is key. Consider adopting a peer mentoring program or other formalized support system.
3. Don't take it easy.
Don't assume your mom employees are better off with mundane, low-stress tasks. In the Hulafrog survey, having challenging and rewarding work was tied for the third most important aspect of employment for moms, rated higher even than health insurance benefits. Working moms are motivated by a vibrant and stimulating work environment as much as their non-parent counterparts.
What does work-family balance look like to you? Is your ideal at one extreme or the other, or is it somewhere in between?