Offering greater flexibility for all employees makes good business sense and can result in: lower absenteeism, greater productivity, increased employee morale and loyalty.
Working mums are incredibly committed and disciplined, and understand the importance of managing multiple priorities. If you offer part-time, work from home, job share, school hours or any other flexible arrangement, you can be sure that you will able to attract, and more importantly retain, talented women in your organisation.
So what should employers consider when recruiting?
Keep an open mind
When hiring a new role, or replacing a previous employee, think about what the role could look like, not just replacing the role exactly as it was. By having an open job brief, and focusing more on hiring the right person for their skills/cultural fit rather than the days/hours they can work, you are widening the talent pool that will apply for the role.
Advertise your role as part-time
If you are prepared to offer the role as part-time, then advertise your role as part-time! We often have clients brief us on a role or advertise their role on an online jobs board (like Working Mothers Connect) as “Full time” even when they would consider offering the role as part-time for the right person. Simply change the listing and the quantity and quality of candidates will certainly increase as a result.
Think creatively regarding flexible work arrangements
One size doesn’t fit all, and not every candidate is looking for the same flexible work arrangement. Think about what the business needs and what you can offer the candidate as a result. For example, if there isn’t enough work available for a full-time role, but you do need someone in the office every day, then consider offering the role as school hours ie. 9.30am-3pm. Or if part of the role requires report writing or something that is best done in a quiet work area, allow them to work from home one day a week. Job share is another often underutilised work arrangement that can be incredibly beneficial for employers – as you can hire two incredibly talented mums who can bring different strengths to the role – as well as being energised and happy in their role that enables them to balance both family and work commitments. Be creative to set yourself apart from your competitors.
Ensure that you don’t discriminate against pregnant women or women returning from parental leave
Despite the fact that it is illegal to refuse a flexible working request without due process, we still hear stories of mums that are facing discrimination in the workforce (whether whilst pregnant or returning to work) and put in a position to choose between their career and their family. Some employers see it as an inconvience to have a part-time employee (even if the work calls for it) as they are still caught up in the notion that someone needs to be sitting at their desk 5 days a week – and these inflexible employers will simply lose their top staff as a result. As every parents situation is different, it is essential for employer and employee to work together to create a mutually beneficial work arrangement. Over the years, we have even had some clients hire women who were pregnant as simply put, “they were the right person for the job”. Hiring someone with the right skill set and who is the right cultural fit for their company can be a long and arduous process, and these employers were prepared to wait for these candidates to return from parental leave (in each case they took 3-6 months parental leave).
Remember you are hiring someone for the long, not short, term
We find that employers forget that whilst their employees children are young now, one day they will be in school/high school and mums may look at increasing their hours accordingly. The loyalty that these women can offer an employer that allows their role to grow in line with the personal life is underated, and more often than not once these mums find an employer that supports them, they will be a dedicated and hardworking employee for many, many years to come.
Be the kind of employer that doesn’t just call themselves “an employer of choice” on their website, but truly is by offering flexible work arrangements to attract, hire and retain talented women.
If you’d like to discuss how to put a flexible working strategy in place contact us today.