News  & Insights

Working 9-5 – is that the only way a Mother can make a living?

by Angela Young

Why do Australian employers shy away from hiring mothers part-time? A major issue for Australian women aged between 25 and 54 years with children is that they tend to only work part-time. A recent analysis by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD) reported that 45% of working Australian mothers aged 25-45 years (who are in partnerships) worked part-time. They also work very short hours on average less than 20, the second lowest in the OECD as opposed to countries like Belgium, Iceland, France, Sweden and Denmark that enable part-time working mothers to work longer by providing better childcare services (which is another major issue in Australia but that’s a whole other blog on its own!)

If you are looking for a hardworking, efficient staff member, you really can’t go past a Mother working part-time. I’m not just speaking of my own awesomeness but also what I have experienced with my staff and people I know. This is not taking away from the wonderful work that full-time non-mothers do, but it’s worth mentioning because it seems a lot of people shy away from employing a Mother on reduced hours. 

Of course, there are pros and cons with employing a person in any demographic and they all have their stereotypes. Gen Y are lazy, baby boomers don’t do technology and mothers of young children have a part-time attitude. I’m sure we all know hard working Gen Y people and we’ve seen our Grandparents using iPads so let’s now debunk the myths about mothers in the workforce. 

Generally, they will be in the office less than you, but if you pay attention you will notice that they usually skip the coffee breaks, and eat lunch at their desk. The mantra of the mother in the office is “I’m here to get the work done”. They don’t have the luxury of being able to stay back a bit longer to finish something off. Delaying a departure could mean kids are not going to be collected on time or will be late to sports training or musical instrument tutorials or silks lessons ( I didn’t know what silks was either, but my niece is doing it now). The work responsibilities stop at 5 and then a whole heap of family ones kick in. So a mother in the office aims for the utmost efficiency. 

Will she be at the pub with all the staff on a Friday evening? Not always. Is that a reason not to hire her? Is the culture of your workplace that fragile that it would be an issue to the productivity of the organization?

Mothers appreciate being at work. Other staff members may walk in on a Monday morning all gloomy that the weekend is over. A mother walks into an office that has been cleaned by actual cleaners over the weekend and thinks TGIM! For a mother, the stimulation of work and being able to have the best of both worlds is genuinely appreciated. When you truly appreciate something it is reflected in your attitude and your output. 

There seems to be an assumption that the priority of a parent is going to be the children and therefore work comes second. In practice that doesn’t seem to be the case. A parent can still have career goals and ambitions.  Anita Hoskins (CFO of Carnival Australia) said she knows that she is a better person when she is working and engaged in achieving her goals, being a better person means she is a better mother. This is a sentiment echoed by many working parents.

I do not exclude Fathers working part-time as I believe they are a great resource too. The availability of flexible hours for both genders is increasing. A father who can get to assemblies and soccer games will also appreciate the fact that he can do that (and will appreciate being back at work, have you sat through an entire assembly recently?)

The mindset of requiring staff to be in the office 9-5 has shifted and with that, there are even more opportunities to allow parents to work part-time or in job-share arrangements. If you want a dedicated efficient resource, it’s the way to go. 

Are you an employer who is hesitant about hiring part-time workers or do you agree there should be more flexibility in the workplace?

If you are interested in finding out how to hire part-time workers for your business, contact our contracting team for advice on how to approach your recruitment process.

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