Speaking at the Corporate Voices for Working Families event in Washington, Obama spoke of her effort to balance career and family responsibilities and not "trying to pit one against the other."
Obama said she now leads a life "very different than it was and for most people" and lived in a "very blessed situation because I have what most families don't have ... tons of support all around, not just my mother but staff and administration."
However, the first lady said she learned through conversations with men and women "that the work-life challenges that I've faced aren't different from the challenges facing other families ... ."
On-site child care, flexible work hours and paid leave are among the issues that must be addressed for working families, she said.
"These types of policies can be the key to whether a family remains economically viable or slips into financial uncertainty," Obama said.
She said she expected the forum would lead to more discussions in which she would participate.
"We need to find ways to encourage other employers to follow your lead and adopt work-life policies that afford employees flexibility and much-needed support," Obama said. "We want to work together to make clear that, again, investing in these types of policies pays off for employers as well as the employees."