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What new mothers need at work might surprise you

Baby 22
For most new mothers, giving birth is the easy part. It's the worrying, the juggling, the financial stress and trying to please everyone that makes a working mother's life challenging.

In honor of Mother's Day, I spoke to new mothers and asked them what makes a difference for them at work -- what keeps them in the job they hold after returning from maternity leave. I wanted to know if what they need is what employers think they need.

Janet Fernandez knows she's fortunate. She's in business for herself and makes her own hours. Most new mothers want control over their schedules. Time off means lack of income, but Janet went back after two weeks working a reduced schedule out of her home. She plans to start working from her office soon, for a few hours a day while her mother watches the baby. Janet, a travel agent, says she's narrowed her niche, and will now specialize by running cruiseweddingsinc.com. She feels that will allow her to work smarter, still earn income and still spend time with her baby.

Five years after giving birth, Katrina Ductant, a safety manager for South Florida for Turner Construction Co., still remembers how difficult it was to come back to work after giving birth, particularly in a male dominated industry - construction. One of the first things she did was have a conversation with her supervisor. She let him know she preferred not to work the late night shifts. He agreed. "In return, I worked harder while at work. I would go the extra mile so that when I did leave, I didn’t leave feeling like could have done more or didn’t have productive
day."

I also spoke to Rose Alouidor, mother of three month old Melody. Rose is a teacher at Sunny Isles Beach K-8. She told me she went back to work after 7 weeks because she couldn't afford to take more time off. Fortunately, she works in a family-friendly school where her prinicipal and co-workers understand if she needs to come in late to take her baby to the pediatrician. "The key thing that makes a difference, is an understanding employer, before and after you have the baby."

What I came to learn from new mothers is that both a supportive boss and supportive co-workers are key in whether a mother stays in her job during that critical first year. There are lots of moms who go back to work and get treated so poorly, they leave. They don't necessarily drop out of the workforce, they find a job that better suits them.

Today's mothers are older on average, more experienced and skilled. It's in an employer's financial interest to do what it takes to keep them. I hope today's column gives them some much-needed insight. Moms, if you aren't getting support at work, look at your options. There are some businesses where moms are treated well.

The Miami Herald

Moms back on job; will they stay?

By Cindy Krischer Goodman
balancegal@gmail.com

   Adrienne Zalkind holds her 8 month old daughter, Chloe during a brief moment of rest at a fountian near their home. For working women with young children, work and chlidcare becomes a complicated balancing act.
  Adrienne Zalkind holds her 8 month old daughter, Chloe during a brief moment of rest at a fountian near their home. For working women with young children, work and chlidcare becomes a complicated balancing act.
In late April, Alexandra Bach Lagos had one of those rough weeks most lawyers dread. She spent three days out of town conducting depositions, returned and put in two more 12-hour days. While the schedule would be taxing for anyone, it was particularly difficult for a new mother.

“What keeps me going is having a supportive work environment,” says Lagos, explaining that her partners gave her the option of having someone else conduct the out-of-town depositions. “I said, no, I’m fine. I want that opportunity and I’m going to take it. But it’s the fact that they care, and want to make it work that makes a difference,” says Lagos, an associate at Shook Hardy & Bacon in Miami.

As families get ready to celebrate Mother’s Day, workplaces are struggling with how to keep new mothers engaged and employed. A new study of mothers by TheLadders.com shows those who return to full-time work after giving birth said they do so for first for financial reasons and secondly because they enjoy the work. Yet, even in this troubled economy, new mothers bolt when the juggling act becomes too overwhelming.

New mothers, often experienced workers with valued skills, say there are particular workplace factors that keep them in their jobs the trying first year, when exhaustion, emotions and changed routines take a toll. Few of those factors cost a company money, yet many employers — both large and small — haven’t figured them out.

“Good companies are having honest conversations with their new moms,” says Jennifer Owens, editorial director of Working Mother. “They are talking to them in a non-judgmental way about how they can be supportive.”

Studies show at most companies, the immediate return rate for mothers is significantly higher than the long-term retention rate. Mothers will tell you their direct supervisor plays a key role in whether they stick around. Adrienne Zalkind, a public relations executive and mother of two, discovered the importance of talking with her boss when she returned from maternity leave with her now 8-month-old daughter, Chloe. She sat down with her supervisor and discussed more flexible work hours, allowing her to pick up her baby on time from daycare. “If they work with you, it can make all the difference.”


Co-workers play a role in retention, too, a factor employers may underestimate. Only two weeks back on the job, Fox News reporter Molly Henneberg attributes her smoother adjustment to “a community of working mothers” at the network who give her advice and encouragement and act as role models. “The first week can be a difficult emotional transition,” Henneberg says. “They told me each day would get better and then I would get into a routine. So far it’s worked.”

On her second week back, Henneberg experienced her first work/family challenge. An unexpected late night threw a wrench into her child-care arrangement. “It used to be no big deal, but now it was like a military troop movement to make sure the baby was cared for.” Henneberg said her co-workers helped her figure it out, even offering to hold the baby during her live shots. Fortunately, her husband was able to leave work earlier than usual.

Yet, for every story of a supportive workplace, there are mothers who have opposite experiences. Zalkind says the glare of co-workers who see a flexible work arrangement as perks rather than a different way of putting in the same hours can create the tension that causes a new mother to leave or search for a new job. “You have to walk out with your head held high, knowing you are working as hard as anyone else. But for some people, day after day, that can be hard to do,” Zalkind says.

Some companies have become intentional in their effort to retain new mothers, offering coaching before, during and after maternity leave. Five years ago, Citi, a financial services company, discovered a high percentage of its women who go on maternity leave have 10 years of experience or more — “talent we can’t afford to lose,” according to Carolanne Minashi, regional head of diversity for Citi’s Markets & Banking Division. The discovery led to a voluntary program called Maternity Matters. The program, started in the United Kingdom and now offered in the United States, offers group coaching for new moms and their managers and maternity buddies for the women giving birth or adopting. In the United Kingdom, Citi says its short- and long-term retention of mothers has risen. And, while Citi hasn’t released U.S. retention numbers, spokesman Anu Ahluwalia said more than 1,000 of its employees here have participated.

Read more....

 


 

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/05/08/v-print/2789993/moms-back-on-they-stay.html#storylink=cpy

 

  Molly-henneberg

 Fox News reporter Molly Henneberg says support from co-workers and her boss make motherhood and work much easier.

 

 

 

 

 

Sofia  Mom Janet Fernandez is a business owner who makes her own work schedule. She started working from home two weeks after baby Sofia was born.


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