Whether or not people like to talk about it, one of the major concerns for many business owners when it comes to hiring women is how to handle a possible maternity leave and/or retain a great female employee once she enters motherhood. And although more men are taking an active role in child rearing, it's still rare to hear about a guy whose chances for employment or career advancement might be blocked because of a hypothetical paternity leave or a potential future request for a changed schedule upon becoming a dad. So while the debate on women in the workplace rages on, here are 3 surprisingly simple reasons why moms make great employees.
Efficiency. Moms have to juggle a lot of responsibilities. Caring for another completely dependent human being as well as yourself and your home is no easy task. It requires the ability to streamline tasks, to anticipate and manage problems, and to use resources wisely. As a full-time mom and full-time business owner, I have to find a way to focus on my son for all the hours per day he is in my care, to concentrate on my company for all the hours per day it takes to get my job done and somehow to also make time to do laundry, grocery shop, be a good partner to my husband. Getting it figured out at first was hard, but now that I am 18 months in, I am way more efficient than I ever was before, and I believe most working moms would say the same. And I'll be really honest--this evolution in efficiency has a lot less to do with concern for my company than it does with concern for my child. In order to be a great mom, I need to be able to have the time to take my son to the park, read him stories, and leave on time in order to be able to tuck him into bed at night. I can't do any of those things unless my work is well done, and my duties are completed on time. I manage to get done now in a 6-hour day what I used to need 8 hours to do. Imagine if every employee were able to be so focused?
Empathy. Becoming a mom opens up a very deep (and seemingly bottomless!) well of empathy. Being a mom makes you automatically try to identify how those around you might be feeling, and also makes you adept at using that information to make things better for everyone concerned. Mom-employees are often able to use that newfound empathy to determine how to maneuver through challenges that others might find overwhelming. One day a few weeks ago, we had a lot more orders still remaining to be shipped at the end of the normal workday. The line of boxes seemed endless, and most of the order fulfillment team rolled out the door at the usual time, figuring the orders could wait until the next day. The mother of three young children, however, stayed to get the last orders out the door. When I asked her, with immense gratitude, why she did, she told me that she just thought about all those customers waiting for their boxes and being disappointed when they did not arrive on time, and felt she could not let that happen. While no one else thought beyond their own commitments that night, the mom in question simply made the hard choice to miss dinner with her family for that one evening to do the right thing for our customers. Imagine if every employee acted with the same heart?
Determination. Moms are die-hard and determined. As a rule, they will generally do anything necessary to get the best for their children. As business owners, this often makes us worry that what is best for their children will not be best for our companies. However, if you can make the needs of your employee's children and your needs align, you will win an employee who is willing to go to the mat for your company--with more tenacity than any other person you hire. An employee told us a few years back that she might have to quit because her children were struggling in school and she needed to be home earlier to help with homework. We did not want to lose her, but an alternate schedule seemed, at first glance, to be near impossible given her responsibilities. We decided that by re-organizing the way we received and shipped merchandise, we could not only allow her to come and leave early, but we could also revolutionize the way we processed orders, and deliver a better experience to our customers. Many people on staff were resistant to the change, but she was a fierce proponent of making it work. She not only mobilized the troops behind the idea, she also fought through every challenge to make sure it worked for the business. Imagine if every employee acted with as much conviction?
A mom should not be seen as high-risk employee, but rather as high-potential team member. Her commitment to her children should not be seen as a hiring obstacle, but rather as an indication of the qualities she will bring to the company that employs her.