May is maternal health month, and although we’re always looking for ways to inspire, educate and support people in the workplace, as well as employers, we’ve decided to take this opportunity to focus on the mental health of mothers that are postpartum.
With research showing that 77% of working mums have encountered negative or discriminatory treatment at work, it’s incredibly important to be aware of the way we look out for mother's wellbeing in the workplace.
With postpartum depression and other mental health issues being prevalent for new mothers, it’s incredibly important to not only try to understand the situation that mothers are in, but also how you can actively support them.
Why Do You Need To Focus on Maternal Mental Health?
Mental health problems during pregnancy and in the postpartum period affects between 10-20% of women, therefore as an employer/HR manager, you need to put more emphasis on supporting the mothers in your workplace.
You can’t afford to neglect the mental health of the working mothers in your workforce as it will not only worsen the mental health of these employees but will also be detrimental to the overall morale of the workplace, impact people’s judgement of your business, lower productivity, and damage the relationship you have with your employees.
How Can You Support Maternal Mental Health In The Workplace?
Really Get To Know Your Employees
To be able to properly support your employees, you first need to get to know them, individually. Different employees need different types of support, so make sure that you really connect with each and every one of your employees, especially mothers and expecting mothers.
Spend time getting to know your employees, do team-building exercises, promote joy and connection in the workplace, and attempt to bond with your employees on a deeper level - they’re not just people that work for you, they’re human, so remember that!
Promote and Focus On Mental Health In The Workplace
If you’re serious about supporting maternal mental health in the workplace, you need to prioritise the mental health of all your employees. You need to create a workplace environment that operates in a way that promotes mental health and truly focuses on improving the mental health of employees.
Whether you host a mindfulness practice altogether each week, talk authentically and openly about mental health regularly, or provide your employees with information and resources, you need to make sure that you’re supporting your employee’s mental health and wellbeing rather than being detrimental to it.
In addition, promoting and focusing on mental health in the workplace ensures that employees know that it’s OK to talk to you about whatever they’re going through.
Provide Specific Benefits For Working Mothers
Working mothers are battling with a lot, from sleepless nights to expensive childcare, so whether you’re a business that wants to appeal to working mothers looking for work, or you’re supporting women coming back to work after maternity leave, you should provide specific benefits for them.
Think about what working mothers really want, or communicate with the working mothers in your workforce, and then create a selection of benefits specifically tailored for them.
Depending on how much your business is able to do, you can provide a selection of these benefits, or all of them!
- Flexible work hours and personalised schedules.
- A supported return-to-work programme.
- The opportunity to work from home.
- Paid time off.
- On-site daycare, or subsidised daycare.
- Put together support forums and groups of working mothers in the workplace.
- Mental healthcare support in and out of the office.
Communicate and Advertise The Benefits You Provide
It’s not just enough to have this list of benefits for working mothers sat in your HR managers desk drawer, you need to actively advertise, promote and communicate with your employees that you offer these benefits - this is the only way that working mothers will be aware of your benefits and actually take you up on them.
Keep Communication Open
The most important thing as an employer, especially when you’re trying to support the mental health of the mothers in your workplace, is keeping communication open.
Make sure that the mothers in your workplace understand that you are there for them, that you understand that they’re dealing with things that are much more important than work, that they’ve gone through the biggest change of their life and need to be supported in a different way.