It is 2023 but, unfortunately, we continue to live in a world where there are still stigmas surrounding working parents. An example of one of those stigmas is that once an employee becomes a parent they become less committed to their job and therefor less productive. This specific stigma is one that I am going to discuss today, because I do not believe that becoming a parent makes you less productive. Sure, you may need to work more flexible hours in order to work around school/daycare drop offs or extracurricular activities but working flexible hours does not have a direct correlation to a decrease in work productivity.
Spoiler alert: if you read the article cited above you will discover that flexible work hours actually increases productivity and it is not only working parents who want flexible hours.
According to one study, parents were more productive than their childless peers. The study states that "mothers of at least two children, are, on average, more productive than mothers of only one child, and mothers in general are more productive than childless women." The study saw similar results for fathers of at least two children, but there was a slight difference in productivity in relation to childless men and fathers with one child. The study concluded that childless men and fathers of one child saw similar levels of productivity, but "toward the end of their careers, however, childless men appear to be somewhat more productive than fathers of one child."
There are multiple studies that have attributed the following factors as reasons why parents are more productive. Parents
- are great multi-taskers
- are empathetic
- develop better time management skills
- are "more likely to be in touch with the world and willing to research things"
From my own personal experience since becoming a mother, I know every single one of those factors listed above applies to me. I have become a much better multi-tasker, despite having thought I was great at it before parenthood. I have always considered myself an empathetic individual, but since becoming a mother I have found that my increasing ability to have more patience (especially with a 2 year old) has coupled beautifully with my empathy. Lastly, my time management skills have also increased exponentially because my ability to prioritize and actually sticking to set time boxes has gotten stronger.
It is important to note that these stigmas and biases are not always intentional. They may be unconscious biases that people are not even aware that they are holding onto. The first step is recognizing that you may have these opinions or beliefs about working parents and doing your own research to discover if you are correct or not. I have provided many different studies and articles at the bottom of this post that could be useful, but I highly encourage everyone to do a bit of research on their own.
While individuals can make a difference, employers and companies also have to acknowledge and actively fight these stigmas and biases by implementing trainings and creating work environments that are safe for every single one of their employees.
- Do Flexible Work Hours Improve Employee Productivity? by Lucy O'Connor | Hubble
- How the wage gap changes as women reach childbearing age by Jillian Berman | MarketWatch
- Parenthood and Productivity of Highly Skilled Labor: Evidence from the Groves of Academe by Matthias Krapf, Heinrich W. Ursprung, and Christian Zimmerman | Economic Research - Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
- The Paradox of Family Structure and Plans after Work: Why Single Childless Employees May Be the Least Absorbed at Work by Tracy L. Dumas and Jill E. Perry-Smith | Academy of Management
- The Wage Penalty for Motherhood by Michelle J. Budig and Paula England | American Sociological Review
- When Professionals Become Mothers, Warmth Doesn't Cut the Ice by Amy J. C. Cuddy, Susan T. Fiske, and Peter Glick | Journal of Social Issues
- Why Flexible Work Boosts Employee Productivity by Caroline Castrillon | Forbes
- Why parents may make better employees by Catey Hill | The Balance
- Working Parents Make Great Employees by Beau Peters | Recruiting Daily
Note: The cover image for this blog post is brought to you while snowboarding at Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area in Boise National Forest, Idaho.