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FHI was formerly published in print but now is online only in order to be more eco-friendly.
A New Era for Working Moms
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A New Era for Working Moms
Are you a working mom or career woman who is considering having children? If so it is time to make a decision about your future. How do you plan to balance work and home life? In the past women had limited options. They could cut back on their hours, switch to part time, leave the workforce completely or buckle down and invest in childcare. For most these options were barley viable never mind desirable. Because of the high cost of living and raising a family, simply cutting back hours or leaving completely is unthinkable for many. Fortunately the work world is changing. Employers are catching on to the fact that they are losing so many talented devoted workers. Modern technology opens up doors to a different kind of working environment. Telecommuting is now a practical and to some, preferable option. Women who do choose to leave the workforce are no longer limited housewifery. There are ways for them to supplement and even replace their income working hours that are conducive to raising a family.
Over 5.4 million mothers put their careers on hold to stay home with children in the United States. That’s 22% of the workforce. These substantial numbers are causing employers to rethink their current ideas regarding a strictly regulated 9:00-5:00 Monday-Friday workweek.
“What many women don’t know is that companies are starting to realize that they are losing out on some of the best possible employees…at every CEO table in the country right now executives are asking ‘How can we keep our new moms?’” says Alicia Bassuk an independent executive coach in decision-making and leadership management. Her company, Ubica Strategy, helps dedicated professionals re-invigorate their careers. A large portion of her clientele is working mothers or mothers-to-be that are seeking a solution to balance their career and family duties.
According to Bassuk, sometimes all it takes is a serious sit down with your employer to negotiate more flexible options. Bassuk strongly encourages women to have this conversation well before children are on the way. Trying to achieve an acceptable solution last minute is overly stressful. Instead Bassuk recommends having an exploratory conversation with employers when you think you might have children. You‘ll never know what you can work out with your employer if you never ask and simply quit. Think about all the options you have beforehand. Set up a plan based on those you choose.
You may be surprised with the results of such a conversation. Many employers are starting to realize what has long been true. Working mothers who have been given the opportunity to maintain a healthy balance between home and work are ideal workers. They tend to be loyal, reliable and have superior time management skills. Often times they are so grateful to the company they go above and beyond whenever possible.
Some employers may prove to be inflexible. It may be you have not gained enough seniority in your company or they simply hold fast to traditional ideals. In any case if you decide that staying with your company is no longer advantageous, then there are other options to consider. One option is to continue to do what you are already paid for freelance. This will offer you more flexibility and the possibility to replace your income. You can do this independently or with the help of two revolutionary new companies. Mom Corps and HireMyMom.com are staffing agencies devoted to connecting mid career professionals with employers seeking to augment their workforce. These excellent companies help working moms (dads and other professionals wishing for more flexibility) find temporary, part time and contract work in their fields.
“Employers are noticing a talent shortage. Droves of experienced professional women choose to leave the workforce and companies are starting to realize they are losing their best employees. The time is ripe for companies and society in general to start looking at non-traditional work options.” Says Dianne Michael, Midwest Regional Vice President of Mom Corps. “Many parents can’t afford for one or the other to leave the work force, MomCorps is all about finding ways we can create a mutually beneficial situation that meets everyone’s needs”
HireMyMom.com has a similar mission, however in addition to placing individuals, they also offer assistance for moms interested in starting their own businesses. They sell a business start up kit that helps fledgling entrepreneurs figure out what business best suits their needs and skills. One of the prime services this kit provides is helping moms (and other professionals) calculate how much money they need to make.
Lesley Spencer Pyle, CEM (Chief Executive Mom) of Hiremymom.com and the Home Based Working Moms group encourages women to spend some time thinking about what they want in a business, “Spend some time thinking about what you want …not how can I make money quickly. This tends to cause the mom to quit and restart… it is very wise to think through what you want to do and create an informal business plan. Those who thoroughly consider all the facets of business owner ship before diving in are much more likely to stick with it and to succeed.”
Hiremymom.com also hosts also an online community where working moms all over can communicate with each other. It can be used as a prime networking resource for locating other “momprenuers” near by.
“With 300 members nationwide, especially those who network and get to know each other, they can learn things that would take a lot longer to learn on their own. The moms offer each other support. Sometimes its just good to know you’re not alone, that there are hundreds of other moms that are always out there.”
Bassuk agrees with Pyle and recommends mom’s steer away from business ideas that are drastically different than their current careers. “Women who create a business based on what they already know how to do, what they were paid to do, will be more successful.” One option for a mid-late career professional could be setting up a consulting firm in which companies would pay for your expertise.
The working landscape is changing and there are now more options for working mothers than ever before. We can start to envision a new future in which the workweek and the regular 9:00-5:00 are redefined. Perhaps we may even create a society that values family needs as much as the bottom line.