A workplace consultancy firm has encouraged employers to examine the contributions made by working mothers in their organisations, to review their ‘family-friendly’ workplace policies and to become a part of a movement towards creating a new workplace culture that rewards performance and productivity – not just ticking the boxes for being present in the office for long hours.
While many working mother’s would not make reference to their motherhood on their CV for fear it could be viewed negatively, recruitment shortlister nexthire says working mothers should wear the term as a badge of honour, even going so far as to include it on their resume. “Mothers should be highly sought after employees because they are great at multi-tasking, meeting impossible deadlines, resolving conflict and managing people. They can delegate and are usually highly organised. What's more, they tend to work harder when they're at work because they have other responsibilities when they get home. This makes them more productive and, arguably, more attractive as employees,” Jason Snell from nexthire said.
Snell added that most organisations ‘talk the talk’ in that they spruik work-life balance and family-friendly policies, but all too often it translates into tethering employees to the office via smartphones and laptops.
A March 2012 report, Get flexible or get real from the Diversity Council of Australia (DCA), Westpac and Stockland, found significant evidence that flexible work optimises resources and productivity. DCA urged organisations to ‘mainstream’ quality flexible work and careers as standard business practice, and offered 11 strategic actions organisations can take to achieve this.
Get designing: Integrate flexibility into job descriptions, job and work design, and teams; integrate flexibility into performance reviews & development plans; assess performance on outcomes, and recognise outcomes can be met in different ways; treat flexibility as a management deliverable; explore possibilities of technology and alternative work strategies.
Get cultural: Ensure those who work flexibly are “accepted”; base relationships and expectations on trust; ensure flexible work is seen as the way things are done around here; challenge the stigma of working flexibly.
Get leading: Senior leaders genuinely commit to flexible work; leaders lead by example – they are effective role models for flexibility; leaders have an active approach to mainstreaming flexibility; leaders have the capabilities to manage a majority flexible workforce; all staff have the necessary skills to engage in flexible work.
Get talking: Show the business benefits; redefine flexible work by bringing it to life with examples; illustrate success stories – provide the details to enable others to copy; show how flexible work arrangements work on a practical level.
Get strategising: Identify flexible work as a business need; have a long term business commitment to flexible work; create a strategy for a majority flexible workforce – this is part of workforce planning; report progress and outcomes as part of standard business reporting.
Get universal: Foster a genuine acceptance of flexible work by all; ensure flexible work is available to all, regardless of job type or level; educate clients/customers and the community about flexible work.
Get resourced: Equip people with the tools they need (e.g. IT, team-based processes); provide appropriate resourcing for flexibility; review policy and systems that may impede flexibility implementation; explore new ways of meeting clients’ needs and consult clients and customers about this.
Get ROI: Engage in risk (e.g. not being flexible) vs return (e.g. retaining a skilled workforce) discussions; make the connection between flexibility and increased individual, team and organisational performance; measure the impact of flexible work and show the financial returns.
Get proactive: Look for opportunities to integrate flexibility into day-to-day business operations; focus on ‘why not flexibility’ rather than looking for reasons to ’block’ flexibility.
Get team-focussed: Consider the impact of flexible work on the whole team; focus on support from within and across teams; welcome team-based feedback on the impact of flexibility; create flexibly autonomous teams.
Get career-focussed:Create flexible career opportunities; integrate flexibility into senior roles.
Despite the growing body of evidence indicating otherwise, flexibility is still not viewed as a valid and legitimate management tool and career choice in contemporary Australian workplaces. “This represents an enormous missed opportunity for a more productive and sustainable workforce,” Nareen Young from DCA said.
Gail Kelly, Westpac’s managing director and CEO believes flexibility delivers dividends for employers and employees, and called it a critical enabler for creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace. “By making flexible working arrangements an embedded business practice for all employees, at all levels of management and at different stages of their career, organisations become more sustainable and adaptive to change whilst also creating a competitive advantage in the on-going war for talent,” Kelly commented.
Zero tolerance policies sound good, but are they arbitrary?
Is your workplace Fairtrade certified?
HR overlooks applicants with non-western names
Doubts that older worker bonus will make a difference
Cultivate your own stars instead of pinching others
Should ‘fit notes’ replace ‘sick notes’?