“I wish it was a given that employers know that employees are humans and have families.”
“It would be just nice to be seen for all of the extra I am putting in, in order to do an excellent job. I don’t have to be excellent so it would be nice to get the acknowledgement that I’m going above and beyond what I was initially hired on to do.”
“The possible opportunities that may arise to boost my income, and possibly give my partner an opportunity for income. Personal growth and mental and emotional healing makes me optimistic about this year.”
What if you don’t want to slow down professionally? Over 3,400 parents, overwhelmingly Moms (97%) have shared their stories in our pandemic study since March of 2020. Although most are exhausted from challenges at home, like insufficient childcare or mental health support. Many also face unsupportive work environments, with bad managers and constant pivots.
Despite the obstacles, not everyone wants to pause or pull back. Some, still want more from their careers, including growth. Whether it’s the human desire for mastery or the very real need for income and stability, with some pruning, your career can deliver both.
There’s a huge amount of identity tied to professional life. And it can become a launching pad for better options. So, what can you do in the current climate, despite the challenges, to keep growing?
Decide What you Really Want
Yes, women still face significant barriers in the paid workforce. Including bias, discrimination, and underrepresentation in leadership. And despite the valuable skills we gain, after kids, that traditional career ladder can feel very wobbly. Which often shakes your professional confidence. So, what do we do when we crave growth?
Where Your Ambition Lies
Most (87%) in our newest survey wave admit, dialing back on their career ambitions a lot (43%) or somewhat (44%) after kids. But whether it’s hunger for forward momentum or financial pressure, nearly a third (29%) want to grow professionally.
Your needs, expectations and feelings, can change. So, if you dialed back for reasons that no longer fit, or the idea of growth in this season suits you, don’t let the fatigue or naysayers stop you.
And the Environment You Need
We hear a lot in the study about out of touch leaders, misguided strategies or misaligned budgets. We also hear about the organizations that get it right, with meaningful benefits, goals, and help.
So, where you work, the people you work with and the culture of your organization, matter a lot. We’re unstoppable with the right support systems around us. So, when was the last time you explored what’s available to you?
Tap Into Work/Life Support you Already Have
Interestingly, satisfaction with employer support overall, has increased in recent survey waves. In the responses since January, 64% cite their employers are supporting them adequately, well or very well. And just over a third (36%) say ‘terribly’ or ‘not well.’
When is the last time you reviewed your benefits? It’s all about the available resources. And how psychologically safe you feel to take advantage of them.
Although very few employers subsidize the cost of regular child or eldercare, many large organizations do so for back-up care. Others provide discounts to find caregivers, enroll in local daycare or after school programs.
You may also have better mental health, stress management or therapy access, post-pandemic. Not to mention, services like financial or legal planning.
And Negotiate for What’s Missing
When we asked for the benefits or policies that could make work ‘work’ better, perhaps not surprisingly, most want more money or more time. The top five to date are: a raise (22%,) more paid leave (20%,) childcare subsidies (17%) and mental health (15%) or stress management resources (17%.)
Consider the possibilities of better support and that your voice, might lead your company to consider a new benefit. Okay, so we know it’s not as if everyone can just ‘ask’ easily for more at work.
Or Lean on Your Caregiving Colleagues for Strength
Since early in the study, flexibility in all of its forms, is often considered more valuable than money. Unfortunately, Mom bias is real, and for Moms of color, the outcomes are even worse. So, less than 3% of surveyed parents feel comfortable asking for what they need from their managers.
If you lack the psychological safety to negotiate directly, consider leaning on your caregiver employee resource groups or team, because they may help advocate for inclusive management practices that make shining professionally and personally easier. But what about making the ask?
Unleash the Power of Your Network
Sadly, Moms love giving it to others but rarely ask for help. But we need to practice asking, and asking again, for more at work and at home. If you want intel about salaries, innovative companies, how to move into a new field, start a business or join a board, ask your network.
The people you know can also help with introductions, ideas or information about openings. And remember, instead of trying to hide your genius from your employer, a strong personal brand often shifts the balance of power in your favor.
And Remain Intentional
Entertain your options and commit to possibilities that excite you. It isn’t just one ‘thing’ that you need to do, believe, or act upon. Moving your career forward is often a series of interlocking steps, behaviors, and connections.
And it rarely means working ‘more’ because success and self-care are positively correlated. So, make space to honor your health and priorities. As one surveyed Mom said, “Being a Mom makes me a better employee. When I’m being a great parent, I will work hard to make a living for my family.”
So, go on, grow! Because the options, income and excitement, of fulfilling your career potential can be exactly what you need for your financial or emotional wellbeing.
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