Yes, with Mother’s Day around the corner and 74% of women with children participating in the labor force last year, many moms are working.

And a new report on 2024’s Best & Worst States for Working Moms, has been released to help ease the burden on mothers in the workforce, WalletHub compared the attractiveness of each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia for a working mother based on 17 key metrics. The data set ranges from the median salary for women to the female unemployment rate to daycare quality.

What Companies Can Do to Help Working Parents Balance Home/Work Life?

“One of the most important things that companies can do is to know their employees and listen to their needs. The needs will vary significantly depending on several factors – the type of work the employees are expected to do, the ages of their children or the needs of the other family members for whom they provide care, and the priorities of the workers. Do the workers see this job as a stepping-stone within the company, a temporary stopping place as they gain experience to move on to other jobs or a career, or just a place to make money for now? One of the most important factors is whether the work and family balance is weighted more heavily toward work or family for each person. That is, what comes first – the need to keep the job to support the family, the desire to build a career, the safety and well-being of the children while parents are at work, the relationships in the family, or something else? Most employees will say that all those things are important, but there are many times when all workers need to decide on priorities and choose what comes first,” said Judith A. Myers-Walls, Ph.D., Professor Emerita, Purdue University; Education Director, Online Parenting Programs.

“Balance is a tricky word here largely because it is never completely level; however, research consistently shows that social policies that reflect an understanding of the unpredictability of childcare and caregiving such as comprehensive family leave, extra personal time off, and sick leave assist tremendously for working parents. Additionally, productivity levels tend to be higher, especially if one parent is a sole caregiver or if one parent functions as the primary caregiver and has a work schedule that allows for attending school functions like parent-teacher conferences. Other useful strategies could include following the direction of major companies like Johnson & Johnson, Citigroup, and Adobe: on-site daycare for infants up to four years, daycare discounts or subsidies, backup childcare, and flexible hours,” said Dr. Alicia D. Bonaparte, Professor & Medical Sociologist, Pitzer College; President of the Pacific Sociological Association 2023-2024.

With 1 in 4 Parents Suffering Burnout: Ways to Support Working Parents

“There are four things that employers can do to attract, retain, and support working parents. First, employers must prioritize the family health and vitality of their workers. When workers are happy in their family lives, they are happier and more productive workers who are more likely to remain at their places of employment. Second, employers must clearly state that they want and value working parents. Since working parents are such a strong demographic in the workforce, employers must make these workers feel seen and appreciated. Third, employers can attract, retain, and support working parents by providing free recreational activities for them and their families as well as providing free meals annually or biannually. These small ‘perks’ would mean so much to working parents who oftentimes do not have the time or money to provide relaxation for themselves and their children or parents who are oftentimes tired and do not have the energy to cook a nutritious healthy meal for their family. Finally, employers must understand the multiple, unexpected changes that families go through and support families as they experience these changes. This support can be financial, emotional, physical, or social. All of these forms of support help stabilize families during difficult times and increase the likelihood that they will remain together and become stronger after these changes,” said Cassandra D. Chaney, Ph.D., Professor, at Louisiana State University.

“Burnout is not linked to being a working parent; rather, it is a byproduct of a hyper-productivity-oriented culture that creates excessive demand without workplace social support and a low degree of control. Consequently, such situations create stress-related disorders. Key to addressing how burnout occurs requires companies and organizations to recognize the vital role of workplace social support and create spaces where workers, especially working parents, have agency. Studies show that companies that prioritize workers’ well-being via incentivized programming, work-from-home schedules, as well as some of the strategies I mentioned before such as comprehensive family leave and extra personal time off are attractive because they show investment in workers. Childcare subsidies or on-site centers are another way for working parents to be supported and allow them to focus on their contributions to the workforce while also being attuned to the caregiving needs of their children. Research also shows that workplace wellness programs have equity issues as those who can afford to take part in them are of a higher income. And given current inflation rates, families are still struggling to pay their household bills, rents or mortgages, as well as childcare so increased funding and salaries that take into account family expenditures are imperative as well,” Bonaparte added.

Steps Policymakers Can Do to Support Working Mothers’ Labor Force

“It is important to keep parents’ voices heard when decisions are made. Include mothers and fathers as part of planning groups and decision-making bodies regarding leave policies, employee benefits, work environment changes, and similar visioning. Ask new employees what they will need to be successful and have exit interviews when they leave. Even mothers gained new insights about what they needed and how the family operated during the pandemic. As a society, we learned new ways of doing things and learned that we could let go of some things that “had always been done a certain way.” But we also tried some new things that we were glad to leave behind as [we] developed the new normal. It will be important for employers and families together to blaze this new trail,” Myers-Walls added.

Working mother constituents have consistently asked for more equitable and supportive workplaces and different lobbyists and politicians have put forward bills to support working mothers that have either been reduced to minimal proportions or they did not meet approval within the government. At the onset of the pandemic, childcare subsidies overwhelmingly assisted working mothers and parents; however, the reduction or elimination of such policies may once again lead back to working moms and other working parents leaving the workforce. Gender scholars have also documented the pay disparities between women and men due to engendered hegemonic beliefs about women’s and men’s capability and responsibility in the workforce as parents. More organizations and companies should be held accountable via enforcement for equal pay across gender lines by requiring employers to provide employer pay data, creating a federal equal pay taskforce, and creating more initiatives that require greater wage transparency. These latter recommendations may require collaborations across different federal agencies for this type of social progress to address these inequities,” Bonaparte said.

For the full report, please visit here.

Source: WalletHub