Given the state of the economy and its effect on families, many stay-at-home moms are looking to get back into the workforce.

These women usually have huge gaps in their employment history and have seemingly not acquired any new skills during that time.

If you believe that last statement, I suggest you crawl back under that prehistoric rock you call home.

Mothers build upon their emotional intelligence, their ability to mediate situations, and a long list of other leadership character building.  Not to mention anything of interest the mother pursues of her own accord during any "down time" (such as learning how to use social media).

They also need flexible working hours.

But how do mothers find a gainful employment that also allows them to balance work and home life?

Allison O’Kelly created the answer: Mom Corps.

O’Kelly founded the Atlanta staffing firm in 2004 after discovering how difficult it was to land a job in the corporate world while holding herself to the same standards at home.

Mom Corps was one of the pioneers in staffing firms dedicated to finding flexible work options (part-time permanent, full-time flexible, contract or temporary placement) for people, specifically mothers.

“We provide companies direct access to top-tier experienced talent ready to work on an as-needed basis to meet the demands of their business cycles,” O’Kelly said.

The company currently has franchises in 12 states.

Julie Lacouture, regional owner of Mom Corps Los Angeles, told me, “We’ve worked across industries but the best partnerships we’ve had have been in the legal, finance, entertainment and media, and professional service industries.”

Finance? Where 60-hour work weeks are the norm? How is that viable for a working mother?

Mom Corps Minnesota President Katie Leary plans to make it viable. Leary is a mother of four, which is what drew her toward Mom Corps. She has a  recruiter background, with an emphasis on finance.

When she started her own franchise last fall, Leary was determined to form staffing partnerships with well-known financial corporations that provide more contract work. And it looks like she'll be successful.

"The concept of Mom Corps really resonates with people," she told me.

The biggest challenge for Mom Corps is educating these companies on the benefits of how to buck tradition and employing a flexible workforce.

“It’s such a new concept to a lot of firms,” Leary told me.

Agencies that figure out ways to employ people needing flexible hours will be “leaps and bounds” ahead of the others, she said.

The desire for a flexible workforce doesn’t end at working mothers, though. Leary said Mom Corps has gotten calls from stay-at-home fathers looking for temporary work.

Also, she told me, “I’ve placed students, and I’ve placed retired people.”

A company with a similar philosophy is FlexJobs.

The staffing firm that has been touted as the world’s largest telecommuting job site was also started by a woman who wanted to balance motherhood and a flexible career.

“I began looking for legitimate job opportunities that were both in line with my career and had a flexible component (options for telecommuting, flextime or part-time hours, for example,” founder Sara Sutton Fell said.

Fell, who lives in Colorado, launched FlexJobs in 2007 to help people find legitimate opportunities in telecommuting, part-time and freelance jobs. As of 2009, 78 percent of FlexJobs’ subscribers were women, many of whom were balancing motherhood with work.

The struggle for women to find and keep their identity was a driving force behind Fell’s determination to provide them with flexible work.

There are two categories they often fall into:

  • We have the hard-nosed career-minded dragon lady who is going to (according to the cliché) wake up one day and realize she missed out on having a family.
  • The other is the woman on the “mommy track,” who put her own life aside to devote her energy on raising her children, and regrets not living life to the fullest.

In the 21st century, women are told they can have both, and this is what Mom Corps and FlexJobs are trying to promote.

Has your staffing firm found success with flexible work options? Staffing Talk wants to hear your story!

Tags: Telecommuting, Business, Staffing Firms, Minnesota, Flexible work options, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Allison O'Kelly, Finance, FlexJobs, Job Flexibility, Julie Lacouture, Katie Leary, Mom Corps, Moms, Mothers, Sara Sutton Fell, Stay-at-home fathers