Monthly Archives: June 2011

Understanding why women decide not to return to work

A UK study and report conducted by an executive search agency and employment law firm in April 2007 revealed that organisations continue to struggle to retain top female talent despite 39 weeks statutory maternity pay, additional maternity leave benefits and extended worker’s rights in applying for flexible working arrangements, (introduced under the UK’s Work and Families Act.) organisations continue to struggle to retain top female talent. It seems that employers need to do more than just comply with regulatory requirements to entice women on maternity leave back to work.

These findings send and important message to organisations that to simply offer paid parental leave will not be enough to secure mums and dads to return to work following parental leave; a real concern for businesses already suffering from general labour shortages.

What must organisations do to attract parents back to work and keep them?
The 2007 Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Community (HREOC) report on work life balance suggests that ‘flexibility in the workplace’ is the fundamental component in enabling workers to meet the ever increasing demands of work and family life.

Where should employers focus their efforts to best support the needs of their employees, without compromising business productivity?
Rather than trying to guess what improvements need to be made, mums@work suggest that employers go direct to the source. Ask mums and dads what assistance is most beneficial to them first and implement flexible work and parental leave policies after.

Mums@work Director, Emma Walsh states that “company’s can fail to implement feasible flexible work solutions, and risk losing its parental workforce unless they have a deeper understanding of the common issues working parents actually face, not only when they return to their job but on an ongoing basis as they juggle the demands of work and raising a family”.

For organisations to understand the needs of its working parents, employers must be prepared to openly discuss and negotiate practical return to work options that can are realistic for both parties.

This is not always easy given we live and work in an ever changing environment; what might be agreeable today, won’t be suitable tomorrow. Organisations are constantly evolving to adapt to the diversifying needs of their consumers and clients. Walsh suggests that “employers need to recognise and respond to its employees as clients and work together to continually find agreeable working solutions, otherwise they risk losing irreplaceable, valuable talent”.

As parents struggle to meet the rising costs of child care, hold down two jobs (the one at work and at home) organisations need to be prepared not only to offer paid incentives to return to work but also proactively assist employees in developing a practical return to work plan.

Book our Stay-in-touch service now to give your working parents the tools they need to return to work.

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Workaholics now in pursuit of leisure – feature in Sydney Morning Herald

CATRIONA POLLARD worked herself sick. Until this year, 12-hour days and working weekends were the norm for the 42-year-old, who runs her own public relations firm. Managing staff, running a small business and meeting constant deadlines took its toll.

”The most significant thing I did was change my attitude towards work,” she says. ”I still work long hours, but I also make time to nurture myself,” says Pollard.

”Today both parents are walking out the door to work in the morning, there is no one staying home to care for family members and run the household. What we need to address that is good public policy and social systems and significant change in workplaces.”

The need for changes across the board is recognised by Emma Walsh, who set up mums@work about four years ago, a service providing return-to-work guidance for parents.

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Parents Talking Career Choices to their Children!

Parents Talking Career Choices is a brochure that offers strategies for parents and carers to discuss the options available for further study and employment after school with their teenage children. It includes practical advice on how to help young people explore the wide range of job pathways and where to go for further information.
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Stay-at-home mothers to get back to work to prevent a labour shortage

“EU tells stay-at-home mothers to get back to work to prevent a labour shortage”.

Housewives are being urged by the European Commission to go back to work the UK Daily Mail reports. In the UK around 12.6 million women work, 40 percent of them part time. Around two-thirds of working-age women with dependent children are in employment. Brussels says it wants stay-at-home mothers in Germany, Austria and Holland to take up jobs to avoid a looming labour shortage. Read more

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3 skills your working parents and their managers must develop

Want to support your working parents to thrive at work? 3 skills your working parents and their managers must develop: Resilient, Adaptive and Flexible Thinking.

Working parents need 3 core skills to ‘thrive’ at work and at home Adaptability, Flexibility and Resilience.  We’ve all heard the expression “Got a job to do? Give it to a busy person [aka: mum].” But just how much can one busy ‘hands on’ mum or dad handle before the juggling balls begin to fall and bounce all over the place? How is your corporate culture contributing to the success or failure of your working parents’ ability to respond to the ever changing needs of their family and job?

Organisations who strive to help their people achieve their maximum potential ‘get it.’ It means providing employees with the necessary tools, support and training to be Adaptive and Flexible and Resilient to cope with the ups and downs of life being a ‘worker’ and a ‘parent’. Here’s some tips to help your organisation build resilience, adaptability and flexibility amongst your working parents:


1. Find out how many parents work in your organisation (include ‘carers’ who have responsibility for others). Survey them: find out what their needs are, what they are limited by and what would make a difference?


2. Get a parental leave process and checklist in place – support employees to prepare in advance for parental leave and their return to work rather than sanctioning a ‘winging it’ approach.


3. Create a flexible work policy that has a ‘how to’ process for managers and employees which provides details on how to plan, negotiate and implement a flexible work arrangement that works for all. See our ‘Flexible Work Toolkit’


4. Build resilience by offering coaching and other training support to your working parents. See our coaching service and think about starting a ‘working parents group’ or create a Carers network.


5. Sponsor training that supports parents to develop their ‘Career After Kids ’ and keep the talent in your organisation and avoid ‘brain drain.’


6. Drive a performance culture that values flexible and adaptive thinking – clients expect it, staff want it and managers need the ‘know-how’ and encouragement to deliver it. Being adaptive is how organisations can stay ahead of the pack and this means being flexible in relation to how, when and where work is delivered and by whom. For working parents, time is always of the essence and many will strive to find more efficient and effective ways to get their job done in order to make sure they’re home in time to pick up the kids. So let them! What manager doesn’t want a more time efficient and effective employee?


7. Encourage co-operation and understanding of working parents circumstances between teams and managers. After all, every employee may find themselves in a similar situation one day where they require care or to care for another. HR play a key role in championing this co-operative spirit as they are often the gateway between employee and manager when return to work arrangements are negotiated.


8. Provide access to tools and experts to help support the return to work transition for employees and managers. See our Working Parents Toolkit and Stay in Touch Service.

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Is it time to do a career audit?

Is it time you did a career audit and really thought about your future job options; especially now that kids are on the scene? 

Some of the common pitfalls parents fall into when it comes to making employment choices (or decisions about when is the ‘right’ time to go back to work after maternity leave) is not reviewing their career options and being clear on what it is they are aiming to negotiate.  It’s not uncommon to find parents busily formatting their outdated resume and giving it a spring clean, without consideration for what skills and experience they want to promote nor which jobs they will applying for.  If this sounds like ‘you’ it’s time to do a career audit!

·         Make a list of what you’ve done in the past and enjoyed and would like to continue doing in your next job.  This list can contain tasks and skills you are good at and enjoyed doing.  Likewise, what you least enjoyed or just don’t want to focus on in the future.


·         Imagine your next job – is it with a small employer or large? What industry would you prefer? How do you imagine spending your day at work – what would you be doing? Who would you be working with and in what type of working arrangement?


·         Start creating your short list – write your own job description. Give it a title, salary and preferred location and essential skills and experience you’d like to use.


·         Re-examine your values – what will be most important to you in your new job; will it be the flexibility offered, the stability, the teamwork, the ability to progress? Equally what wouldn’t you accept or compromise on?


·         Finally, once you’ve got your short-list – start creating a winning resume that sells all the experience and skills you want to use in your next job.


·         Update your career objective and profile pages on your resume and online job networking sites etc.


·         Need help to get started on your career audit? Contact mums@work at info@mumsatwork.com.au.

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Working mothers thrive on flexibility – mums@work and Westpac in the news

Rachel Slade is the mother of three boys aged six, four and two. She has worked at Westpac for the past 12 years and is at present head of group diversity and flexibility at the Westpac Group. “I’m in a senior executive role and my career progression hasn’t been slowed down by choosing to work part-time,” she says.

Equal opportunity may be taking a step backwards, says a global survey of businesses, including 214 from Australia. The Working Mothers Study by Regus reveals a significant number of Australian organisations are not planning to recruit working mothers in the next 2 years, amid concerns they are not as flexible or committed to their work, and that their skills will be out of date on their return to work.

Emma Walsh, Director of mums@work states: “The average maternity leave Australians take is somewhere between six to nine months, and over 65 per cent of families have two parents working. The fact is, many parents need and want to work. In fact, we have clients who actively target parents for their commitment, compared with [gen Y], often regarded [as] less reliable,” she says.

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