Andrea Garson, vice-president of human resources at Workopolis.

Every morning, Andrea Garson, single parent and a vice-president of human resources, wakes up at 5:45 a.m. and begins her day with her most important client — her seven-year-old daughter.

Luckily for Garson, she’s able to juggle the challenges of tight deadlines and school plays because her employer, Workopolis — a Canadian Internet recruiting and job search solutions provider — recognizes the benefits of supporting the lifestyles of working mothers and mothers transitioning back into the workforce.

“Every mother is a working mother,” says Garson. “Savvy employers are realizing that the current employment market and corresponding labour shortages are making it more important than ever to recognize the needs of working mothers.

They are putting plans in place in order to continuously attract and retain key talent.”

Garson says the increased participation of women in the workforce is one of the most significant trends in Canada in the past quarter-century — and it’s a trend that clearly benefits business. “Diversity in the workplace brings diversity of thought, which increases a business’s competitive advantage. If women decided the challenges of working in and outside of the home were too overwhelming and decided to stay at home, the economy of this country would come to a grinding halt.”

A recent Workopolis poll, conducted by Decima Research, found one-quarter of employers are not offering any additional options to make the workplace more manageable for working moms.

Of the employers who do provide benefits for working mothers, 48 per cent offer flexible work hours; 20 per cent offer extended maternity leave; and 13 per cent offer on-site day care.

Moms’ top benefit wish is flexible hours, as 27 per cent of respondents said being away from the family as their No. 1 work/life challenge.

“Flexible hours have been critical to my success along with access to working with portable technology (laptop, BlackBerry) as another option working moms recorded in the polls,” says Garson.

While most working moms have similar needs, all working moms aren’t in the same economic bracket. For some, a live-in nanny or signing children up for private sports or arts lessons just isn’t in the cards. To find more strategies and advice for working mothers, visit www.workopolis.com.

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