How to support mothers in the workplace​

How to support mothers in the workplace​

There’s no disputing that mothers play a vital role in the home, but their value doesn’t end there — working mothers are a crucial part of a positive corporate culture, too. Moms who have jobs outside the home juggle more today than ever before, and they often do so with inadequate support from their employers. We must begin prioritizing the needs of mothers in the workforce — at the employer level and as a society. It starts with acknowledging and addressing the unique challenges working moms face.   

According to research, there are over 74 million women in the workforce in the United States — that’s almost half (47%) of the total population. They’re ambitious, too. Some studies suggest that 90% of working women under 30 want to get to the next level in their job, and 75% hope to be part of senior leadership at some point. This means two things: first, some women in high-paying, high-value positions will already be or soon become mothers, and second, you’re going to need to make an effort to keep them around.

Unfortunately, research also shows that more than half of working moms (54%) find achieving work-life balance difficult. Not to mention, 63% feel their employer doesn’t support them. To put it bluntly, if you’re not addressing the needs of women and mothers in your company, you’re missing the mark. You also risk alienating and losing top talent who add significant value and benefits to your organization. 

Read on to learn more about the difficulties working moms face. Here, you’ll learn actionable tactics to implement that will create a supportive work environment and enhance professional success and mental and physical well-being. 

Understanding the challenges that working mothers face

Before you can solve a problem, you must identify where it lies. Once you know and understand the types of challenges mothers at work typically face, you can address each one by offering support and resources to help them overcome individual struggles. 

Work-life balance

Work-life balance is so much more than just a buzz phrase today. It’s been linked to several positive benefits. Healthy work-life balance can translate to improved mental and physical health and well-being, as well as higher productivity levels, job satisfaction, and employee retention. It can even drive revenue

Childcare concerns

Many working mothers need help to balance their roles as mothers with professional responsibilities. They might worry about who will take care of their children, the cost of child care, or how to deal with unexpected schedule changes (like illness of their child or caretaker). They also commonly face other challenges that lead to increased stress levels and can negatively impact job performance and attendance.  

Career progression and opportunities

Despite the progress we’ve made toward equality over the last several decades — the Equal Pay Act, for example — much more work needs to be done before we reach true equality in the workplace. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research predicts it’s unlikely we’ll see equal pay across genders before 2058. 

The more effort you put into creating opportunities for growth and career advancement for working moms, the more likely you are to have a fulfilled, happy workforce who’s committed and loyal to your organization.

Maternity leave and return to work

Being able to take enough time to adjust to parenthood should be a given. Yet, for too many women, it’s a stressful time that steals some of the joy from their experience. Offering employment benefits for working moms, such as fair and generous maternity leave and a flexible return-to-work process, is essential. Working mothers require understanding and support as they navigate maternity leave and make the transition back into the workforce.

Workplace flexibility

The COVID-19 pandemic challenged the effectiveness of the traditional Monday through Friday, 9 to 5 work routine, demonstrating the potential of remote work and flexible schedules. This experience alleviated many of the initial fears about productivity loss and other potential drawbacks associated with flexible work arrangements.

Embracing flexibility in when, where, and how tasks are completed offers numerous advantages. Research shows that providing employed mothers options for part-time work, the ability to work from home, and flexible scheduling—without the fear of negative consequences—significantly enhances their overall well-being. Such measures not only support work-life balance but also enrich their work experience, contributing to a more inclusive and productive workplace.

Guilt and stress

Many new mothers at work feel incredible guilt and stress over not being fully present or with their children 100% of the time. Couple this with the constant anxiety over finding daycare, the cost of care, and trying to accommodate school schedules, and stress levels can skyrocket. 

Lack of support

A general lack of support — at the office, at home, or in both places — can add to many working mothers’ struggles. The impact is even more significant when moms feel misunderstood or that they’re underappreciated by colleagues, supervisors, or other members of a company’s leadership.   

10 Ways to support mothers at work

Mothers are expected to successfully balance all facets of their world — professionally and at the family level. You can help by creating a workplace culture that supports and values working moms and their contributions. Even simple adjustments to policies, programs, and opportunities can ensure mothers at work are set up for success. 

1. Flexible working arrangements

Flexibility is critical in creating a positive work environment for the moms on your team. Whether allowing people to choose their hours, offering the option to work remotely, or letting employees opt for 4-day workweeks, flexible work arrangements mean everyone, especially moms, can better balance their professional and personal lives. 

2. Comprehensive maternity leave

Time off with a new bundle of joy should be peaceful and rewarding, not stressful. Write policies ensuring comprehensive maternity leave is beneficial to all new parents (not just women and moms). 

3. Return to work programs

Transitioning back to work after time off can be overwhelming. You can ease some of the burden by offering programs that support moms as they return to the workforce. Reentry programs should focus on helping women come back to their roles confident and strong. Implement policies that encourage women to ask for help and train leadership to show compassion and offer assistance to returning mothers.

4. Accessible and affordable childcare

Stressing over the cost or accessibility of childcare is something no parent should face. Yet, it’s all too common in today’s professional landscape. If you can offer solutions to make care more accessible or offset and subsidize care costs, working mothers can focus on their jobs instead of worrying about their kids’ care.  

5. Health and wellness programs

Enable mothers to effortlessly look after their physical and mental health both in the office and at home by integrating therapy for employees into your health and wellness programs. Prioritizing the well-being of your workforce fosters a healthy culture and shows that you care about more than just the work. Offer health and wellness programs that aim to improve the quality of all employees’ lives, both professionally and personally.   

6. Supportive leave policies

Supportive leave policies are crucial for the mental health of working mothers, allowing them the flexibility to take necessary time off for family and personal matters without additional stress. These policies ensure that employees can prioritize their well-being and family needs, feeling secure in the knowledge that their workplace supports their mental health and work-life balance.

7. Career development opportunities

Nearly every employee wants to feel there’s potential for growth and future advancement. It can be difficult — or virtually impossible — to put 100% into something that feels like a dead end. Make career development opportunities accessible so working moms are more likely to come to their jobs daily energized, focused, and motivated.

8. Lactation support

Offering dedicated lactation support, such as a private room for pumping and short breaks throughout the day, helps nursing moms in the workplace. This allows mothers at work to maintain their breastfeeding routine, balancing professional duties without losing the special bond that breastfeeding creates between a mother and her child.

9. Inclusive culture & policies

Celebrating diversity and providing an inclusive work environment is non-negotiable in today’s workplace climate. Organizations where diversity is acknowledged and prioritized see improved morale, higher retention rates, and — believe it or not — increased revenue. Some studies suggest that companies with diverse leadership see 19% higher revenue. 

10. Employee resource groups (ERGs)

Creating and promoting employee resource groups (ERGs) is an excellent way to increase engagement and foster a positive, organization-wide culture. Groups aimed at helping moms (or dads) can help weary working parents face common challenges. From health-related groups that focus on self-care and nutrition to working parents’ support groups, ERGs are employee-driven and can be very effective in offering aid and guidance. 

The essential role of mental health resources for working mothers

Mental health is critical in creating a healthy workplace where working mothers can succeed. Moms need support to do their jobs well — both the job they’re paid for and the one they do for free. Physical and mental support can be the difference every mom needs, and you can offer it in the workplace. By partnering with Talkspace, you can enhance your health benefits with access to mental health professionals who can make a real difference. 

Talkspace offers online therapy for employees, making mental health access simple, convenient, and affordable. Learn more about how Talkspace can help you up your game when treating working mothers well. Reach out and request a demo today to learn more. 


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  5. Kalev, Alexandra, and Frank Dobbin. “The Surprising Benefits of Work/Life Support.” Harvard Business Review, August 16, 2022.
  6. Iwpr. “Quick Figure: Pay Equity Still Decades Away.” IWPR, September 15, 2023.
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  8. Eswaran, Vijay. “The Business Case for Diversity Is Now Overwhelming. Here’s Why.” World Economic Forum, April 29, 2019.

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