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What Do Working Moms Want? What Everyone Else Does

Every year, scores of women go back to work after maternity leaves, intending to combine their careers with their new family roles. Yet many ultimately decide to leave their positions. Their expertise and skills walk out the door with them.
Recruiting and retention are big headaches for any firm, so management researchers have been posing this question recently: what makes new moms stay?

A new study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology finds an answer -- but if you're looking for anything earth-shattering, you won't find it here.

The researchers from Baylor University followed 179 new moms who worked full-time. They found that the factors most associated with sticking out those rough first months included flexible schedules and job security. The flexible schedules enabled moms to deal with rough patches like childcare woes, doctor visits or even a bad night without calling it quits. They could still put in the hours, but not necessarily certain hours that someone else dictated.

As for job security? When moms knew they weren't likely to be let go in the near term, they focused on doing their jobs, rather than worrying about them. They didn't fret that one tardy appearance would cost them their positions, and so they relaxed and enjoyed their work more.

This all makes perfect sense. But it's also what everyone wants in a job. We all do better when we focus on the job at hand rather than on who's getting a pink slip. We all do better when we have some say over our schedules. In other words, if you as a manager are looking to keep your new moms on the payroll, be sure to treat your new moms like you should treat all other employees: as human beings.

What eased your transition back to work after a maternity or paternity leave?


Photo courtesy flickr user, jeanine&preston