Do you remember a month or so back, we put a call out for Canberra’s…
We are often reading in the media how mothers are the greatest untapped resource in an employment market straining under the impact of a rapidly ageing workforce.
The OECD has stated that Australia’s economy would experience a significant boost (up to 20%) if we can find ways and means to engage parents with meaningful, flexible work opportunities.
As professional recruiters, the HorizonOne team are approached every other day by parents looking for opportunities to work part time or with flexible working conditions that support a hectic family life. Unfortunately, there is still a huge lack of supply for part-time work, and not enough genuinely flexible arrangements in the Canberra region.
Whilst we observe a general trend towards more employers offering flexible opportunities in employment markets where talent is scarce, we believe that there are still vast opportunities for employers who are prepared to think flexibly.
Flexibility in practice
It is possible to achieve balance as a working parent. We spoke with four mums kicking career goals in very different ways, in the hope it provides insight for people looking to snag that flexible opportunity, and inspiration for employers who feel it might be time to think differently.
The Flexible Senior Executive: Amanda McIntyre
Position: Former Head of Office for Women at PM&C (SES Band 2); Current Partner at PWC, mother of two energetic boys.
Flexibility achieved: Worked three to four days per week for 11 years whilst attaining promotions consistently to the SES2 level. Currently full-time but with flexible ‘parenting hours’.
How she did it? By being honest and confident about the flexibility she needed and why. From the outset, Amanda never hid her requirements from a prospective employer, and sometimes needed to turn down roles that couldn’t accommodate part time hours.
#1 Tip: Be upfront about what you need and why, but flexibility goes both ways so be prepared to negotiate and don’t leave your colleagues in the lurch.
The Champion for change: Julie McKay
Position: Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer and Partner, PwC; Former Head of UN Women.
Also, Board Member of the Defence Gender Equality Advisory Board, Trustee of Brisbane Girls Grammar School and Chair of the Women’s College at Sydney University and YWCA Canberra Board Member; busy mother of a one-year-old.
Flexibility achieved: After returning from parental leave, Julie works part-time, flexible hours. She spends three days in the office and fits the rest of her hours around her daughter’s sleep and activities. Sometimes this means working a few hours at night or on the weekend, but this suits Julie well. With a one-year-old at home, it’s not always easy to get work done, so she is able to split her work over the weekend as she needs.
What are the benefits? Julie is able to get a full four days of work done on a schedule that allows her to spend time with her daughter, whilst being able to stay in a career and role that she is passionate about.
#1 Tip: Flexibility benefits everyone. We need to encourage more people in our organisations to work flexibly and realise the productivity, innovation and engagement benefits of doing so! Flexibility shouldn’t just be something reserved for mums—Julie’s partner also works flexibly, enabling her to do the same! PWC follows an “All roles flex” policy that encourages flexibility not only for working mums but for many other commitments too. The approach is gaining traction and Julie wants to see it adopted across the board for all modern workplaces.
The Gun Contractor (Part-time): Tanya Evans
Position: Contractor for Federal Government (EL1) through HorizonOne; mother of two.
Flexibility achieved: After time off having kids, Tanya took workplace flexibility into her own hands, resigning from her permanent EL2 level role and choosing to work as a contractor. Tanya takes on EL1 level contracts (three to nine months) she finds challenging and interesting, but only for clients that can be flexible around hours.
What are the benefits? Tanya achieves the ‘double whammy’, part time hours (25 to 30 hours per week) as well as aligning breaks between contracts with school holidays and time with family. Tanya chooses to work ‘one level down’ from where she had been working successfully for some time, because she finds EL1 level work balances better with family commitments.
#1 Tip: Be upfront about the flexibility you need, and be honest with the client if you don’t think the role can be done part-time. Priding yourself on always delivering on workplace commitments promotes trust, even if that means working back occasionally. Work with recruitment consultants you trust, and who will be upfront with their clients.
The Successful Freelancer: Alison Muggleton
Position: Scribing Consultant (HorizonOne); Mother of two.
Flexibility achieved: Following a career to Senior Management level, Alison chose to spend more time with her family and at home, and has been a successful consultant for more than 12 years. A large proportion of her work is completed working from a home office.
What are the benefits? The flexible nature of Scribing allows her the freedom to meet family obligations and be present every day for her kids. While the work can be up and down, to some extent she is free to choose her own hours and the pay is very sound.
#1 Tip: Find quality, meaningful work. Finding flexible quality work can be the challenge, but having a great team and work you are passionate about is key.
What would I know?
So, as a small business owner and a guy who probably doesn’t really maintain a balanced work life, what would I know about workplace flexibility? Well, with my first child due in November I think I am about to get a crash course! Also, as a Canberra recruiter with 15-years experience, I consult with clients every other week about how to structure opportunities to access the untapped potential of talented parents.
We also do a pretty solid job of workplace flexibility at HorizonOne, and we are in the process of implementing a new and improved approach. Here is a video we recently made for an attraction campaign to attract talented recruiters to Canberra. We would love to hear your thoughts!
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