10 Things Working Moms Care Most About

The Mom Project: The top-10 things working moms care about

The math is simple, but disturbing. More than 60 percent of Americans with bachelor’s degrees are women and yet, according to a 2004 study by the Center for Work-Life Policy, 43 percent of women in professional roles end up leaving their careers. The pipeline is so leaky that according to the Bureau of Labor  Statistics, women’s workforce participation has been on the decline since 1999. 

To understand why that is, The Mom Project, along with our partners at WerkLabs, asked more than 1,000 working moms to share the factors (beyond salary, benefits and role) that impact their decisions to stay or leave a job. Here’s what they shared with us, in order of importance. 

What Matters Most to Moms at Work 

1. Flexibility

Women surveyed (88%) consider “flexibility’ as important, if not more so than salary. For 42%, it outranks salary altogether. Keep in mind, though, that we’re talking more than shifting hours. Today, a request for “flexibility” could mean remote working, working when convenient, working controlled amounts of hours,  and project-based. 

2. Respect

It’s critical to working mothers that leadership and organizational policies respect the need for flexibility. A majority (75%) ranked manager and organizational support in this areas “most critical” to feeling respected. Written policies aren’t enough; leadership should visibly support efforts to create work-life balance.

10192-_Community_Blog_Icons_communication"What matters? Having the flexibility to do school drop off and pick up.”

—"Building a Better Workplace: 10 Drivers for Women’s Success at Work” Survey Response

3. Benefits

Benefits and competitive salary, as well as maternity leave and  childcare, are absolute imperatives for women once they become mothers. Yet, the concept of an employer providing childcare is foreign to women surveyed. Imagine what a differentiator it would be if your company did.

4. Recognition & Development

Working moms ranked a manager’s genuine care in their well-being and acknowledgment and understanding of responsibilities outside of work even higher than opportunities for career advancement within the org, yet both are incredibly important to working parents. 

5. Leadership

Accessibility and open dialog are hallmarks of good leadership, say the women we surveyed. The ability to voice questions and concerns to management is key in whether working moms feel connected and valued with their organizations. 

6. Off-Hours Events & Travel

Participating in outside-work events can be challenging for working mothers due to familial responsibilities. When gatherings are optional, make that clear without preferences or consequences attached. Business travel presents similar challenges. Respondents told us they prefer roles with minimal travel required. 

10192-_Community_Blog_Icons_communication"Paid time off with my child trumps a bonus.”

—"Building a Better Workplace: 10 Drivers for Women’s Success at Work” Survey Response

7. Clear Expectations

Our moms want to maximize work productivity. Help them focus by providing timely and useful, performance-based feedback and regular checkpoints regarding work priorities. Another critical factor is understanding how their role fits into overall organizational priorities.

8. Culture & Collaboration

Workplaces that value diversity, collaboration, accountability and empowerment are incredibly attractive to working moms. They want to work on teams where everyone pulls their own weights and feels empowered to speak up regardless of position or role. 

9. Resources & Environment

Access to needed resources and autonomy to perform their jobs well are equally important to working moms. Moms we talked to want challenges, oversight and feedback, along with the ability to self-pace to get the work done.

10. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

Though lower on the list of imperatives, CSR remains a concern for working moms surveyed. Moms working or actively seeking to working in the non-profit space are particularly tuned into how companies show up in philanthropic, activist, and charitable spaces.

10192-_Community_Blog_Icons_ArrowDID YOU KNOW? 

  • 75% of working women rank manager understanding and overall organizational support for flexible work as the most important criteria in choosing a new job or position  (controlling for equal work for equal pay)? 
  • 88% of working women consider flexibility to be as, if not more  important than salary
  • 42% say flexibility outranks salary altogether.
  • 83% would leave a job for a  role that better supports their desired workplace criteria.
  • 91% prefer a 20- to 30-hour workweek vs. a 40-hour one. 

What This Means for Your Company

Top talent will leave jobs for roles that better support what they care about most in their work. In a marketplace competing for the attention and engagement of mothers, the importance of meeting the criteria they care most strongly about cannot be stressed strongly enough.

More information and tips can be found in our complete report, “Building a Better Workplace: 10 Drivers for Women’s Success at Work

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