Work-Life Balance Still Not There for Working Mothers

By Roy Maurer May 8, 2015
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A resounding 78 percent of working mothers believe they can be both successful in their careers and as parents, but many say their work has suffered from being a parent and are more likely than men to say work has negatively impacted relationships with their kids, according to CareerBuilder’s Annual Mother’s Day Survey.

The survey of 464 working mothers and 340 working fathers with school-age children living at home with them explores what it means to be both a full-time parent and a full-time employee in today’s economy and how experiences differ between men and women.

While just over three-quarters of working moms (and most working dads at 83 percent) surveyed feel that a successful work-life balance is achievable, only half of moms (52 percent) said they are equally successful in their jobs and as parents. Thirty-four percent of working moms report they’re more successful as a parent, compared to 32 percent of men. Working dads were more likely to say they are more successful in their careers than as parents: 19 percent compared to 15 percent of women.

What Is Success?

Four out of five working moms and working dads defined success as the ability to provide for their families. Working moms were more likely to stress the importance of enjoying the work they do (77 percent compared to 60 percent of working dads), whereas working dads were more likely to value the pride their family places in their job (42 percent compared to 35 percent of working moms). When asked to specifically point to factors defining career success, working moms were more likely to point to how much money they earn (53 percent compared to 45 percent of men). Working dads were more likely to report they currently earn their desired salaries (28 percent compared to 17 percent of working moms).

The number of working parents who are the sole earners in their households is climbing, and the gap between men and women is closing, according to CareerBuilder. Thirty-nine percent of working moms and 43 percent of working dads reported they are the sole financial providers in their homes, up from 31 percent and 37 percent, respectively, in 2014.

Work-Life Balance

On average, working moms reported spending more time with their children each day than working dads; however, mothers are also more likely to report work has negatively affected their parenting. During the typical workweek, half of working moms (57 percent) spend four or more hours with their children every day, compared to 35 percent of working dads. Only 6 percent of working moms said they spend an hour or less with their children each day, compared to 13 percent of working dads.

Despite spending more quality time with their children, working moms are nearly twice as likely as working dads to say their job has negatively affected their relationships with their children (25 percent of working moms versus 13 percent of working dads). Women are also more likely than men to say being a parent has caused their professional work to suffer (17 percent of working moms versus 9 percent of working dads).

“Employers are increasingly open to providing flexible work arrangements to employees so long as they can maintain a high level of productivity,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer of CareerBuilder and a working mom. Haefner suggested the following options for employers to consider:

*Flexible work hours. “More companies are moving away from traditional schedules to help employees achieve a better work/life balance. Ask your boss if you can come in later or leave earlier on certain days, enabling you to get your kids to school or daycare, run errands during less hectic times or take care of other priorities,” she said.

*Working remotely. Some companies may provide the option to work from home or a remote office, helping you spend less time and money commuting and more flexibility with how you choose to spend that saved time.

*Compressed hours. “Instead of working five eight-hour days, see if it’s possible to work four 10-hour days, giving you one extra day during the week to take care of personal errands or appointments or simply relax,” she said.

Parents new to the workforce or looking to jump back in will be glad to know that 69 percent of employers believe the skills acquired by being a parent can qualify as relevant experience in the corporate world. According to CareerBuilder, employers find parenting skills such as patience (67 percent), ability to multitask (62 percent), time management (59 percent) and conflict management (51 percent) most valuable.

Nearly 1 in 10 working moms (8 percent) have included their parenting skills in their resume or cover letter.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.​​

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