Nine out of 10 of the estimated two million people in the UK that are looking to return to work after a significant period of time away are women, many of whom are mums looking to re-join the workforce after raising children.
Rachel Morar, Chief Operating Officer at MyKindaFuture, the leading overlooked talent specialist, argues that more needs to be done by companies to attract and engage returner mums, an all too often forgotten and neglected talent pool.
The Value of Returning Mums
With over three-quarters of mums who leave work to care for children wanting to return at some point down the line, this talent pool is sizeable and has the potential to fill the skills gaps facing employers and make a huge contribution to UK businesses.
Yet, tragically, many senior decision-makers at UK companies are underestimating the host of valuable skills mums come equipped with when retuning to the workplace. These include increased productivity, efficiency, empathy and a greater capacity to multitask.
Those returning to the workplace after having children are also likely to have a renewed sense of motivation. Having made the difficult decision to spend time away from their family to come to work, they will be focussed on getting the most out of their time when they return. This often makes them amongst the hardest-working individuals in any given team.
For any business, especially those targeting a consumer audience, a significant proportion of their target market will likely be mums. So, it makes perfect sense to have mums’ voices heard in the workplace and their perspectives reflected in the way the business operates.
In order to attract, engage and retain returner mums, employers need to be asking themselves if they know what motivates mums to return to the workplace, and devise strategies that can be used to engage this valuable and underrepresented talent pool.
Top Tips for Hiring and Retaining Returning Mums
Flexible Working Policies
The last five years has seen a huge rise in the number of businesses offering flexible working and this is particularly valued by those with dependants. In many instances, mums still handle the lion’s share of childcare, which is wrong and can hold them back in their careers. Although we’d like to see more gender parity when it comes to childcare, flexible working policies can help to alleviate the pressure on mums.
An organisation that embraces flexible working not only attracts mums to the workplace and gives them the best chance of thriving, but also will see wider benefits across the whole of the workforce, with increased employee retention and productivity. However, despite the rising trend for flexible working, and the huge benefits it can offer businesses, 60% of mums that return to work are still worried about their requests for flexibility being rejected. This is wrong and it is vital that UK businesses work to tackle the stigma that still surrounds flexible working.
We need to move on from the outdated notion that flexible working is a favour or a perk. Instead, employers must embrace flexible working policies, such as allowing staff to work from home, or allowing them to best structure their day, whilst ensuring all potential applicants are made aware of this culture. It is also likely that removing the stigma around flexible working will allow more men to take on childcare responsibilities, aiding the march towards greater gender equality in society and UK workforces.
Access to Childcare
As many as 93% of women say it is hard to combine a successful career with caring responsibilities. With this in mind, it is clear that employers that provide onsite childcare give themselves a huge advantage in attracting talented professionals who have taken a career break to have children.
For employers which are unable to invest in onsite childcare, offering other family-friendly policies, such as extended maternity leave, can also be a key differentiator in looking to retain current talent, as well as compete against other employers for future talent.
Recognising the Value of Transferable Skills
Employers should consider whether their interview process has any bias which will prevent them from identifying valuable transferrable skills in those who have taken a career break to have a child. Recognising that these skills may not necessarily have been developed in a professional environment, and devising strategies to identify them during the interview process, will ensure that employers have the best chance of recognising high-calibre candidates from within this talent pool.
It is wrong that despite the clear value that the returner market can offer businesses, countless barriers remain in place for mums looking to return to the world of work. In fact, an astonishing 90 percent of returners say that they received no formal support, with 92 percent believing a dedicated programme would have been beneficial to them.
It is the proactive businesses that understand what motivates the returner market, and invest resources into attracting, retaining and developing this demographic, that will be rewarded with the huge value it offers.
For more information about MyKindaFuture, visit www.mykindafuture.com
Are you looking to return to work after a career break? Searching for advice and tips? WeAreTheCity has a whole dedicated section to returnships and returning to work. You can find open returnship opportunities, advice for experts about returning to work and tips on flexible working.