Looking back we have come a long way in ensuring that women are given equal opportunity to acquire job opportunities. However, there is still much to do to ensure full inclusiveness of women in the workplace. Among these issues that need to be addressed is the issue of creating a thriving environment for working mothers. Being a mother is a tough job in itself and more so during the pregnancy and in the first year or so after giving birth. A baby is basically tied to a mother during its earlier months in the world. This means mothers find themselves in the position of balancing work and being good mothers.
Companies can help working mothers by providing them with options that facilitate their needs. Not only for the benefit of the mothers but for the company too. Most employees’ productivity is higher in companies whose management looks out for their needs. While most companies give 3 months paid leave for new mothers, there is still so much they can do.
Provision of Crèche Facilities
Crèche facilities are areas that mothers can take care of their young ones in the workplace. They include day care services with the company hiring trained professionals to watch the babies as the mothers work. They also include areas where mothers can breastfeed their children or express milk to be used later. Crèche facilities ensure that children are well taken care of without separating the child from the mother. This way, a mother does not have to worry about the child’s safety. These areas should also include areas where the children can nap since children do need their beauty sleep.
There is something about belonging in a community that makes some things in life easier to handle. A working mother often finds herself spending time either at work or taking care of the baby. Companies can facilitate the organization of wellness programs to give mothers to join a community of people going through the same experience. When they said it takes a village to raise a child, they were not kidding. These groups can provide an opportunity for mothers to share their experiences with how motherhood is coming along. New mothers can learn from the previous experiences of other mothers. There is comfort in knowing you are not alone. It takes a load off a mothers shoulders which ultimately makes her more productive at work.
Paid Maternity Leave
Companies are required to give 3 months paid leave to new mothers. This is needed to give the chance for the mother to bond and take care of the baby. However, some companies go out of their way to add an extra month or two to the 3 months giving more time to the mother and child. Babies are most dependent on their mothers in the first six months after birth. Extended paid leave gives the mother ample time to take care of her young one. This way, when she comes back to work, she can be a little more secure about leaving her baby.
Flexible Working Hours
If extending maternal leave is not possible, companies can always offer flexible working hours. These means allowing moms to either leave work earlier than usual or come to work a little later. This also includes giving mothers the option to work part-time as opposed to fulltime. This allows them to concentrate on work and taking care of their children. If possible the option of working from home can be put on the table for the roles that are flexible.
Raising children is hard work especially when it comes to finances. Now while companies cannot go providing personal assistance to every mother, they can set up medical insurance to assist mothers with pregnancy with newborns. These medical insurance covers both the mother and the child during and after the birth of the children.
One of the companies that have stood out due to its employer-sponsored care services is Safaricom PLC. Earlier this year they were recognized by The International Finance Corporation (IFC) for their employee- sponsored care – Safaricom Gains Recognition For Its Mother Friendly Working Conditions. They provide a wide range of services to ensure the needs of working mothers in their workforce. They provide;
Baby Care Facilities
These facilities are divided into several rooms each meant to make the mothers lives easier while at the office.
Crèche facilities- They provide rooms where mothers can breastfeed, expel milk and change diapers. These rooms also have areas where children between the ages of 4 months and 4 years can take naps.
Daycare facility- Safaricom hires trained professionals to take care of the children. Mothers (and fathers) can bring their young ones to work and leave them under their care. This fully equipped facility with baby cribs provides a place for children to take naps and an area for them to play too.
There are doctors on site in these facilities should the children fall ill or encounter accidents during the day so the mothers can be sure the children will be in great hands.
Provision of paid maternity leave for 4 months. There is also the chance to combine one’s maternity leave and personal leave getting up to 6 months paid leave for the mother and child. Fathers also get 2 weeks paternity leave so they can also bond and take care of their children.
Shift preference working system
Safaricom has a system that provides mothers with friendlier working hours. These shift based positions allow mothers to work part-time up to 7 months after delivery.
They provide medical insurance that covers that not only cover the mother but also the child. The comprehensive medical insurance covers pre-delivery, anti-natal clinics and scans including both natural and caesarean deliveries. It also covers post-delivery trips to the hospital such as immunization up to 9 months.
The Cafeteria in the Safaricom premises allows parents to have lunch with their children. It provides healthy food and kid-friendly food options so the children can also be included. So even if a mother is not breastfeeding, she can still get time to bond with the child while still at work.
There are libraries which provide reading material and research for parents and some reading material for children. The daycare facilitators can read some of these books to the children as they play or take naps.
Mothers just like other employees can enjoy the gym facilities provided to stay fit. An onsite gym itself can be a motivation to stay fit. They can also take advantage of the games room to relieve stress and work as a place they can unwind before they return to mummy duties.
More companies should jump on board and start providing these facilities for their working mothers. Not only for the benefit of the mothers but also for the company. Most companies that provide these facilities have lower employee turnover. Everyone wants to work in a company that looks out for them providing them with the opportunity to a find a great balance between their work and personal life.