The Untapped, Qualified Applicants Employers Must Not Overlook

Mothers. Moms. First, call yours and thank her. Then, think about hiring someone else’s.

I’d like to discuss the qualified professionals that many companies may be overlooking. I believe mothers are an untapped resource. In addition to the skills developed in their careers before children, they add to their experience the ability to multitask like, well, a mother.

What Moms Bring To Your Company

All moms are already working -- that job comes with no days off and no overtime pay, and bonuses come in the form of hugs. But they do that job the best they can and with an energy, patience and dedication that, I find, is unmatched.

Often, moms are forced to pause their careers to avoid the exorbitant costs of child care, but their skills don’t disappear when kids arrive. Many of these women want to do what is best for their families, and I believe they should have more options when they decide they want to work in addition to their job as a mother -- other than selling things to each other via social media (which is great, if that’s what’s desired).

I invite you to be an option. By looking at your company and creating flexibility for this untapped resource, you open up a new world of talent for your organization.

A mother’s time away from work should not be considered a gap in their resume or a break in their career, but instead as a hands-on leadership training program. Moms can take what comes their way because, for the last three to five years, they have managed to nurture the most difficult of colleagues -- those who do not have strong communication skills, who can be quite difficult and make a mess of almost everything. Every day, in little time, they manage to not only get children fed, dressed and out the door, but they also mentor, create and inspire. They not only know how to work as a team; they also lead the team.

What Your Company Brings Them

A flexible work environment has the power to not only improve the quality of candidates you hire, but to also retain and maintain the morale of the employees you have. If a mother doesn’t have the mental stress of worrying about what her manager will think if her child is up all night with a fever and can’t attend school or day care the next day, thereby keeping her home too, that same mother may become devoted to your organization in a way you may never understand.

Look at the flexibility of your schedules. Is your company set up in a way that employees can achieve balance in their lives? Flexibility makes it so moms can work harder for you. If a mom can go to a school concert or get her child to a doctor’s appointment with support instead of retribution, she likely won’t hesitate to work harder to get tasks done.

Explore providing options like job sharing and splitting schedules to provide work-life balance. If a mom is not working a full-time schedule, she should understand not having a full-time salary. But in the time she does work, you reap the benefits of how productive a mom can be. Working fewer hours is not indicative of working less.

Making It Happen

Change can be daunting, but a change for the better is just that. Open up the conversation with existing employees (hopefully there are mothers already on your team), and see what flexibility they desire. Options may include allowing employees to occasionally work from home or work from home on dedicated days. Offer flexible schedules. In areas with long commute times, the opportunity to pick which hours they work can be a big stress-reliever for employees.

As a way to reach those mothers who are looking to work for, and to benefit, your company, note in the job description that flexible schedules are considered. A candidate can likely come to you with a solution to get the job done that you may have never even considered.

I know from firsthand experience the benefits of this flexibility. As a child, my mom had a position that was shared with another mother. She worked 2.5 days a week and provided an example of what a working mom could be. And the office she worked for benefitted from the organization and systems implemented. Today, I am fortunate enough to have a supportive employer that offers flexibility to support all its employees, including mothers and fathers, and does so in a way that doesn’t feel like it’s anything out of the ordinary -- yet, it is extraordinary.

Flexibility is the key to bringing hard-working mothers into your company. Use it to open the door to making your company extraordinary as well.

Originally Published by Forbes on May 6, 2019