I’ll start by saying that technically, the title of this article should include the phrase “parent tracking” because I know a lot of men make these decisions, too. However, I’m writing from the perspective of a female. Second, I’m definitely not targeting stay-at-home moms.
Back in the day, I was pretty intense (even more so than I am now). I won’t say that I was a “dragon lady,” but as a new manager in my 20s, I did NOT have a ton of patience for tardiness or lame excuses for missing work. That all changed when I had my first child.
This “career woman” was crazy in love with this baby and wanted to spend every waking moment with her. Then, because my husband gave me this precious being, I was crazy in love with him, also. I now had a family, complete with the Normal Rockwell painting in my mind.
I started watching Martha Stewart Living, and in true 1950s style, my husband came home every night of my maternity leave to a great home-cooked meal and a kiss on the cheek. (And sometimes an adult beverage . . . this is the 50s, right?)
What had happened to me? I NEVER thought I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, but I found myself in a new place: I wanted to stay at home with her. The economics of that fantasy didn’t work out, though, so I went back to work. (And yes, I cried the first day I dropped her off).
Having said that, I feel like somewhat of a “pioneer,” because in 2002, I requested to work from home for one day a week and that request was granted.
Tears? Care? Concern? What was happening to me?
What happened was life. Fast-forward to the present. I am now blessed with a career that provides me with a ton of flexibility.
I am very often at work (in my PJs, mind you) at 5:30 or 6 a.m., and I finish up work and plan for the next day between 9 and 10 p.m. This schedule gives me the flexibility I need to volunteer in my children’s classroom or have lunch with them. More importantly, I can assume my “mom taxi” duties that come with having active kids.
I have many smart and well-educated friends who have made the same decision:
- The physician who switched from the long hours and high stress of her job in the ER to working as an in-house physician at a company
- The Director of Marketing and PR who requested to work remote the days that she has her children so that she can be there for them before and after school.
- The physician who declined more high-profile jobs and who accepted a clinic job without call to keep her hours short and her weekends free
I have a LONG list of examples such as these.
So what’s so wrong with letting your employees “mommy track” for a while? By doing so, you’re keeping your smart, well-educated, and highly competent workforce happy and also gaining their loyalty. In addition, you now have a workforce of more understanding and empathetic managers. Luckily, I don’t hear the negative connotations associated with “mommy tracking” that I used to hear.
If your company has not considered allowing employees to telecommute or offering some flexible work situations, there are many advantages for doing so. Below are five such advantages:
1. Decreased attrition. Losing an employee can often cost over $20,000 in lost productivity and cost to replace the position. Giving your employees some balance between work and home will garner their loyalty.
2. Increased productivity (yes, you are reading this correctly). If you add two hours of work time (vs. commute time) to a person’s day, you will increase their productivity exponentially. On top of this, telecommuting employees are less likely to “call in sick,” so you will get productivity on those days, as well.
3. Telecommuting saves employers money. Below are some interesting data points that I found on the web site www.globalworkplaceanalytics.com:
- Nearly six out of 10 employers identify cost savings as a significant benefit to telecommuting.
- Alpine Access Remote Agents closed 30% more sales than traditional agents the year before. Customer complaints decreased by 90%, and turnover decreased by 88%.
- IBM slashed real estate costs by $50 million.
- Nortel estimates that they save $100,000 per employee that they don’t have to relocate.
- Average real estate savings with full-time telework is $10,000 per employee per year.
- Partial telework can offer real estate savings by instituting an office hoteling program.
- Dow Chemical and Nortel save over 30% on non-real estate costs.
- Sun Microsystems saves $68 million a year in real estate costs.
- Offers inexpensive compliance with ADA for disabled workers.
4. Telecommuting increases the talent pool. I am working on filling a very niche role right now. Once the hiring manager opened up the possibility of working remote vs. relocating, the talent pool increased three-fold. Not only that, but the company is saving thousands of dollars in relocation costs.
5. And back to my original point: companies will have kinder, gentler, more empathetic managers and employees.
“Mommy tracking” . . . “parent tracking” . . . whatever you’d like to call it. If your company has not seriously considered making it a part of your culture, you’re missing out on the many advantages that it has to offer.
Especially the employees who stand to benefit from it.