Workopolis: News Releases

Labour Pains: Juggling Family and Career a Challenge for Working Mothers

Workopolis poll reveals that one quarter of employers don’t offer any additional options to make the transition back to work easier for moms

Toronto , May 10, 2007 – The increased participation of women in the work force has been one of the most significant social trends in Canada in the past quarter century. But, according to a recent study by Workopolis, Canada's leading provider of internet recruitment and job search solutions, working mothers are struggling to find the right balance between work and family.

According to the survey released today, one-quarter (25 per cent) of working mothers report their employers don’t offer any additional options to make the transition back to work easier for moms. But what would make working life more manageable for this group is the option to have flexible working hours, on-site daycare and the ability to work from home on occasion.

“Every mother is a working mother,” said Andrea Garson, Vice President of Human Resources, Workopolis and mother of a seven year old daughter.“But for super moms who work outside the home, juggling family and career can bring special challenges. Savvy employers are realizing that the current employment market and corresponding labor shortages are making it more important than ever to recognize the needs of working mothers, and are putting plans in place in order to continuously attract and retain key talent.”

What employers are doing to help ease the transition back to work

To help with the return to the office, nearly half of working moms (48 per cent) revealed that their employers provide flexible work hours, which for many mothers means enough time to make everyone’s lunches and still arrive at work on time. The option of an extended maternity leave is also high on the list of benefits employers are providing for moms - one in five (20 per cent) working moms took a little extra time at home before the return to the office.

Other solutions employers are offering to help with work and home life balance:

  • Job sharing - 14 per cent
  • Portable technologies (laptop, BlackBerry) - 13 per cent
  • Working from home - 9 per cent
  • On-site daycare – 6 per cent

Employers in Quebec, however; seem to be embracing the extended mat leave option even more so than their counterparts across the country. One-third of working moms in Quebec report that their employers offered extra maternity leave.

But what do moms want?

Not surprisingly, flexible working hours is also the number one desire of working mothers with one third (32 per cent) citing this as their most preferred option to help balance their hectic schedules. On-site daycare moves well up on the ranks, as the number two position with 13 per cent of moms indicating this is what they would most prefer to make things a bit less of a struggle.

More employers are offering extended mat leave options than there are working moms who are interested, with only 10 per cent putting this at the top of their list.

The boardroom vs. the laundry room

Too often, mothers are forced to choose between putting in the long hours to meet deadlines and watching their daughter's debut in the school play. More than one-quarter (27 per cent) of working mothers surveyed feel their number one challenge is time away from their family. Being taken seriously as a working mother is a challenge for nearly one in 10 (9 per cent). But above all else, mothers responded that they just don’t have enough time in the day to keep up with the household chores. Nearly 40 per cent expressed this as being a true test.

“Diversity in the workforce brings diversity of thought, which increases a business's competitive advantage,” said Garson. “If a lot of working mothers decided, 'The challenges of trying to make both a career and home life work are just too overwhelming, it would be a lot easier if just stayed home,' the economy of this country would come to a grinding halt."

The greatest rewards

More than half of all working moms feel the financial contribution they bring to their family is the biggest reward (52 per cent) of juggling a job and a family. Three in ten (29 per cent) indicated that job satisfaction was their greatest reward, and another 10 per cent said that the best motivation was the fact that working outside of the home makes them a better mother to their children.

How moms can make work, “work”:

  • Establish a support system – 29 per cent of working moms recommend giving up the I-can-do-it-all-myself mentality. Accept help from their partners, family members and friends; and seek out other working mothers who can offer additional tips and tricks.
  • Set the stage before you return to the office - be sure to discuss your work-life balance priorities and responsibilities with your boss and set some ground rules before the first day back at work
  • Stop the spillover of work into home – everyone takes the occasional work call from home, but make sure your mind is on work when you’re in the office, and your mind is on home life when you shut down your computer at the end of the day.
  • Make technology work for you – trying to be in two places at one time can be tricky so use tools like PDA’s and laptops to your advantage.
  • Don't be afraid to say "no" - being a working mother means you're pulled in many directions. Decide how much you are willing to stretch boundaries and then be consistent.
  • Find a family-friendly workplace – don’t forget you’ve got options and can always look elsewhere if you’re not getting the support you need to make it all work. Most importantly, do what makes you happy

“Mother’s Day is right around the corner and I’m sure like me, most working mothers would appreciate the gift of a little extra time,” said Garson. “My advice to them would be to try to slow down and simplify as much as possible.”