Flexible Schedule Helps Keep New Moms in the Workplace

Leeway in working hours helps women meet demands of home, job, study found

TUESDAY, June 28 (HealthDay News) -- A flexible work schedule helps employers retain mothers who have just returned to their jobs after giving birth, according to a new study.

"When confronted by one or more job demands, a flexible schedule provides working moms with alternatives for meeting those demands while caring for their newborns. When working moms are better able to control their work environment and adapt, work-related stress is less likely to become a family issue," study author Dawn S. Carlson, a professor of management at Baylor University, said in a university news release.

She and her colleagues also found that working women with new babies were more likely to stick with their jobs if they have job security and can make use of a variety of their job skills, while the effects of work-related stress on their physical and mental health increases the risk of them leaving their job.

"Job security heightens motivation and energy, particularly for mothers who are sensitive to the security of their jobs after returning from maternity leave," co-author Merideth J. Ferguson, an assistant professor of management and entrepreneurship at Baylor, said in the news release.

The study was released online in advance of publication in an upcoming print issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology.

The researchers surveyed 179 full-time working mothers in North Carolina, average age 31, at three intervals, scheduled at four, eight and 12 months after they gave birth. The women had worked an average of 39.7 hours per week and planned on returning to work 30 or more hours a week four months after giving birth.

A large number of women who return to the workforce after childbirth subsequently stop working and the reasons for this are not well understood. These findings offer important insight into the issue, Carlson said.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more about working mothers.

Robert Preidt SOURCE: Baylor University, news release, June 21, 2011

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