Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Ten reasons why mothers make great employees

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Ten reasons why mothers make great employees

You may have heard it said that being a mother is a full time job. It's odd, then, that mothers are expected to do so much more than simply look after their children. If a mother chooses to stay at home with her kids, for example, she may be asked by her partner why the dinner hasn't been made. Or if she is at work, her employer may ask her to put in more commitment instead of leaving early to pick her child up from nursery. Mothers cannot win: their work ethics are continually questioned, generally by those who have no idea just how hard it is to be the main carer of a child.

There has been a lot in the media about women being paid less than men and there is general criticism of women in business because the majority of such women also become mothers. This means that they will be out of 'work' for a number of months or years (or however long they decide), and this makes them appear less valuable to the work force. As a woman, now a mother, I have had my share of discrimination for being of the 'fairer' sex (though there's nothing fair about it). Some business owners say that women screw businesses over; that they take the piss with their maternity leave ("I wish I could take a year off work," they say). They may think that mothers can't be serious about work if they have any sort of maternal instinct about them. Now let me make this perfectly clear, some mothers are bad employees but that has more to do with the work attitude they had long before they became a parent. I'm here to tell you all why employing a mother might just be a benefit, not just to your company, but to the nation as a whole.

1. She shows up
Do you know how hard it is to get out of the house with one child, let alone multiples? If a mother has managed to get, not just herself, but a non-compliant, whiny little person dressed and fed after four hours of sleep, then you can be pretty damn sure that she's determined to be somewhere. Sure, she may have the odd bit of vomit on her work jacket, but she shows up. This determination and drive is something that a lot of workers simply do not have; as soon as a job gets tough they give up or they slack off. Please don't confuse lateness or tiredness with commitment and determination. If she can get out of the house with children then she can do amazing things for your company.

2. She is an excellent problem solver
Have you ever had to make a Harry Potter outfit in ten minutes because your kid didn't give you the letter about world book day? Have you ever made a face out of vegetables to convince a child to eat their five a day or made a nappy out of a scarf because you didn't have a spare? (yes, that was a bad day.) Have you ever turned an average sofa into a secret den or encouraged them to do maths by making an abacus out of jelly beans? Mothers are no strangers to thinking on their feet and solving problems, and if they can find a way to avoid a toddler tantrum, believe me, they can solve any problem in the workplace.

3. She is responsible for practically everything
Everyone hates that person in the workplace who says 'it's not my job' when they're asked to wash the coffee cups. How do you think that would go down at home every time I was asked to do something extra that I didn't want to do? "It's not my job to wipe that dog poo off your shoe!" Or "You knocked that bottle of wine off the shelf, you pay for it!" Mothers have to take responsibility for everything their children do, therefore they are used to multitasking and taking on responsibilities outside of their job role. This is not an excuse to take advantage of her, it simply means that she has the ability to be versatile and multitask in her working environment.

4. She is great at dealing with people
She has experience of working alongside extremely stubborn people and getting them to comply with her ways. She is the ultimate mediator and counsellor; she knows how to get the best out of difficult personality types and to bribe them with chocolate if necessary. Equally she knows how to be appreciative of helpfulness, like when she actually gets a cup of tea made for her that doesn't go cold.

5. She can see the bigger picture
When she's having a bad day, she knows that it won't be forever. She knows that one day the sleepless nights will be over or that her house will be quiet and maybe even tidy again. This gives her the ability to be more positive when hard times come in the workplace and find strategies to make the future better. She is more likely to be well considered in her approach to her work because she sees ahead.

6. She can prioritise
Mothers are extremely pressed for time and although you may think that this is a bad thing, this makes her better able to invest her time wisely. All tasks are carefully considered in order to cut out the unnecessary time wasting jobs that aren't important. She can filter out the bullshit and concentrate on what really needs to be done, making sure that she is efficient and profitable.

7. She sees the funny side
If mothers didn't laugh they would definitely cry (I have been known to) but on the whole we see the funny side of life. What better ice breaker in an awkward business meeting than to walk in with a Peppa Pig sticker on your back?

8. She is used to working under pressure.
Mothers have to make appointments no matter what has gone on beforehand: explosive nappies, tantrums, weetabix smeared on the walls or finding that their shoe has been put down the toilet (all to the soundtrack of baby screams). Somehow they learn to keep their cool (okay, so not all the time). There is no greater experience than parenting to develop an ability for working under intense pressure.

9. She is loyal
There is no greater commitment than being a parent. Mothers, if they haven't already, develop stickability like they never have before. They learn to ride the ups and downs because they believe in their children and stand by them at all costs. In the right job setting a mother has the potential to be extremely loyal and not walk away at the first hurdle.

10. She is used to dealing with crap
No, not just the nappies. We are used to being told that we take everything for granted; that we sit all day in Starbucks sipping lattes. We are used to the chauvinists who tell us we have it easy; that we don't deserve to have weekends off if we've been at home with the kids all week. We are used to the ridiculous working conditions: the long shifts, the on-calls and lack of tea-breaks. We are used to people telling us that we don't contribute enough to society, that we don't deserve to be paid well or be treated as equals.

Whether a woman chooses to work for an employer or as a full time parent, she could be raising the next big political leader or the scientist who discovers the cure for cancer. Parenting is not to be taken lightly, or as though it is a menial and unimportant job. Mothers, simply because the majority of them are the main carers of their children, have the biggest influence on the next generation. Their encouragement, investment, love and support means that you get excellent workers out of their overlooked work. Whether a mother goes out to work or stays at home, she hopefully wants to teach her kids that it's not okay to sit on their arses playing computer games all day. Let's hope we can do a better job of raising a generation of business men and women who are as prepared to clean up the crap as we are.


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