How COVID-19 Changed Work for Moms

The Mom Project: The impact of COVID-19 on American working moms

Since the onset of COVID-19, employees and workplaces universally are working to find footing while navigating an ever-evolving situation.  To gain a better understanding of the on-the-ground impact of COVID-19 on employees, we surveyed workers from across the country representing a variety of industries. That work uncovered several factors and linked them to critical performance outcomes. 

Here are a few highlights of what we learned in April 2020. 

Men and Women are Experiencing COVID-19 Different

According to our research, women reported a significantly more negative experience with their employers during COVID-19. In fact, they rated their overall employee experience 35% more negatively than men. It makes sense then that women were nearly twice as likely as men to report plans to leave their current jobs within the next year. Women also reported scores roughly 20% lower than men on socio-emotional well-being measures, such as social connectedness. 

10192-_Community_Blog_Icons_communicationLife as we know it had changed, yet my company is trying to act as though everything is status quo. They're pushing for greater outcomes because we are all 'working from home' with no consideration for what that means, not to mention the stress of this situation."

—Work Now Report: How the Pandemic is Changing Work

Parents, Especially New Ones, are Struggling

COVID-19’s impact continues to be particularly negative for working parents, who reported increased workloads and demands on their time in April 2020. Top priorities for them included empathetic leadership, even more clarity on roles and expectations, and flexibility. 

For parents of one child, who tend to be new parents, holistic support was particularly needed. They viewed their pandemic experience most negatively compared to non-parents and parents of two or more children and were 10% more likely to report plans to leave their job within a year as a result.

10192-_Community_Blog_Icons_communicationMy employer doesn't understand that homeschooling is shared by two parents. They expect me to put the burden on my spouse."

Work Now Report: How the Pandemic is Changing Work

Flexibility is Needed

Employees told us it simply was not enough for their companies to claim ‘flexible” work policies. They wanted to know how stay-at-home orders have informed their organization. What has leadership learned about flexibility? What type of flexibility will be considered in the future? Even if you don’t yet have those answers, communicating that you are re-evaluating processes and plans remains critical.

10192-_Community_Blog_Icons_communication… sadly even though I believe most people’s productivity is the same or better, I don’t believe the company will appreciate that enough to continue letting employees work from home even periodically after the safe-at-home restrictions are lifted.”

—Work Now Report: How the Pandemic is Changing Work

TAKING ACTION 

Employees who felt the heavy impact of COVID-19 professionally and personally are 25% more likely to leave their job, based on what they shared with us. Taking action to not only improve employee's work experience but also their overall well-being is simply a matter of good business sense. 

Two key factors had direct impact on the overall employee experience during COVID-19, according to our survey:  workplace policies and practices and prioritization of employee well-being. The extent to which employees trusted, respected, and believed leadership acted with employee best interests in mind directly correlated to how workers felt impacted by COVID-19. No one quite knows what the future of work will look like. How much employees know what is expected of them in the present—responsibilities, priorities, goals—impacts their experience.

With that in mind, employers looking to improve their employees’  professional and personal experience during the pandemic would be wise to focus on three areas, according to our respondents: 

  1. Offer Holistic Support—Coach managers on how to support their direct reports in balancing work and home during COVID-19. Strategically communicate regular updates so as to keep employees informed but not overwhelmed. 
  2. Embrace and Implement FlexibilityEstablish what flexibility means to your organization and follow-through. Talk about the future, even if it is unknown. Hold workshops to get feedback. 
  3. Encourage Schedule Ownership—Allow employees to craft their own schedules when possible. Work with them to create communications protocols that guide when, how often and where to keep in contact. 


To learn more about how COVID-19 is impacting the employee experience and what you can do to support and retain your team, read our full “Work Now Report: How the Pandemic is Changing Work.

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- November 13, 2020

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