Written by Jennifer Mackowski, Managing Partner at Stevenson Ridge
I start my day at 6:30 a.m., have playtime and breakfast with my 15-month old, squeeze in a quick pumping session, get ready for work, and then rush off with a granola bar and coffee in hand. I spend the next eight to nine hours trying to be as efficient as possible and work down my daily “To Do” list. The clock strikes 5:15 p.m., and I’m usually tossing my work bag into the car and speeding off to go relieve the babysitter at 5:30 p.m. (although I am consistently 5-10 minutes late!). Thankfully she is an understanding young lady in her early twenties who adores my son and has gotten used to my tardiness. For the next three hours, I chase around a toddler while attempting to put something hot on the table for my family. By the time I put my son down for bed, sit through another pumping session, and answer a few emails, I fall into slumber praying my son sleeps through the night. And I do it all over again the next day.
Motherhood is a juggling act, whether you are a stay-at-home mom or working mother. In the past 15 months, four of our employees at Stevenson Ridge have had babies. We joke around that there must be something in the water. We’re all adjusting to motherhood in different ways and finding what works best for our families. But we all do our best to juggle our careers, family-time, and personal time.
In the midst of all this, I’m finding out quickly how important it is for an employer to be supportive of families. You will lose great employees if you aren’t understanding and flexible. It isn’t easy for a mother (or father) to call out of work because they have a sick child. It certainly isn’t a vacation day for them.
As an example, I have an employee whose mother cares for her child during the day, but her mother was going out of town for two weeks. We had to do a little problem-solving together to find a solution that was going to work for her family and Stevenson Ridge. This employee is an instrumental part of our business, so two weeks off during our busy season would have been exceptionally problematic. For her part, she financially couldn’t afford to take off time. However, she had never left her daughter in the care of someone who wasn’t family. Our solution: We decided that a babysitter could watch her daughter at Stevenson Ridge. My employee will feel better knowing that she is just a moment away from baby and sitter, and I feel better knowing that I won’t be short-staffed.
Not every employer can offer that sort of accommodation, but we can all certainly be more creative and open-minded. It is easy to say “it’s not my problem, you figure it out,” but I believe that’s an irresponsible way to handle it for an employer who values their employees (and I think it’s a bit lazy, too). As a business owner, I feel a social responsibility to my employees. But even if you don’t subscribe to that business model, it’s still in our self-interest as business owners to take care of the people who help us make our businesses successful.