With Mother’s Day coming around for another year, a work/life balance-focused consultancy is urging SME owners to think about how best to integrate mothers into their staff.
“We are shifting towards a workplace culture where results, rather than time at a desk, indicate the performance of an employee. There is evidence … that many mums in the workplace perform above and beyond expectations – often working after hours or operating with maximum efficiency due to their shorter time-frames,” said Fiona Hitchiner, vice-president of innovation and partners at SeventeenHundred.
Ms Hitchiner said attracting female talent to a business is essential to success, and employers should recognise the contribution working mothers can make, particularly in areas with chronic skills shortages.
“There is certainly still a bias that holds working mothers back in many businesses in Australia. Our culture, to an extent, still expects mothers to stay at home with their children, even when this is simply not practical or desired for the typical Australian family … nor is it an attitude we should accept, as it dismisses the invaluable perspectives and skills that women bring to the workforce,” she said.
According to Ms Hitchiner, three key areas business owners can focus on are:
Understanding the value of, and need for, working mothers in any business, and being aware that when a female employee becomes a parent, it can be a normal part of her career journey rather than a career impediment.
Three trends are driving growth in this area: 1) Greater career ambition; 2) Economic factors meaning a dual income is now critical for most families to survive; 3) Improved childcare offerings increasing the likelihood of integrated working mothers and part-time roles.
For many mothers and carers, balancing career and family requires some degree of flexibility. Agreeing on goals and loosening the reins can result in workers unlocking their full potential, which increases employee retention, delivers great returns for employers and improves the long-term success of businesses.
Working mothers have a number of responsibilities and often achieve successful outcomes due to their tireless dedication. The perception can be to the contrary, with some women reporting attitudes that imply they are less productive because they leave early or work part-time.
It is important to acknowledge the significant contribution of working mothers and the skills they gain from becoming parents.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.