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Flexibility is the top priority for working parents

For women returning to work after taking a break from their career to start a family, finding an employer who embraces flexible working policies is often a top priority.

However, ‘flexible working’ is itself a broad term, encompassing a range of policies.

Depending on the needs of individual parents, different policies will be appropriate and employers who remain adaptable as to how they allow their staff to work flexible stand the best chance of securing top talent.

Managing your own hours

The most popular flexible working policy among women is the freedom to manage their own schedule outside of core hours with 88% saying that they regard it as important. Childcare obligations may mean that working parents need to leave early or arrive later on certain days but are still able to work their full number of required hours.

“Flexibility around working hours is a priority for many working parents, but employers must also consider taking a flexible approach to how this policy is implemented,” commented Danika Jarmer, Account Director at Robert Walters.

Working from home

The opportunity to work from home is also considered a priority by 84% of women, but just 39% of employers offer this opportunity. In many cases this may not mean the option to work remotely all the time, but on certain days where childcare or other obligations mean that coming into the office will create difficulties for working parents.

“By giving managers the freedom to organise flexible working arrangements on a case-by-case basis with staff, employers can ensure that these arrangements work for each individual, rather than a blanket policy which may not be appropriate for some staff,” added Danika Jarmer.

Part time hours and job-sharing

Other flexible working arrangements are also considered important to significant percentage of women. 67% said that the option to work part time was a priority, while 43% said that they would value the opportunity to use a job-share arrangement.

However, these policies were even less likely to be embrace by employers with just 35% offering part-time working arrangements and only 12% offering the chance to job-share.

“While the majority of women aim to return to work full time after a career break, employers risk missing out on a significant group of highly skilled workers by failing to offer part-time arrangements,” continued Danika Jarmer.

“In many cases, women who return to work part-time will eventually look to increase their hours and employers who have been flexible in offering part time working arrangements will gain the benefit of them returning to work full time.”


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