An estimated two million people in the UK are looking to return to work after a significant period of time away. Nine out of 10 of these returners are women, many of whom are moms looking to re-join the workforce after raising children. In fact, three-quarters of women who leave work to care for children want to return to work at some point. This demographic has the potential to make a huge contribution to UK businesses and fill the skills gaps facing employers.
With this in mind, Rachel Morar, Chief Operating Officer at MyKindaFuture, the leading overlooked talent specialist, explores how companies can best attract and engage this forgotten and often neglected talent.
The Benefits of Hiring Moms
Companies in the UK continue to overlook the significant benefits that come with hiring moms wanting to return to the workplace. In fact, senior decision-makers underestimate the host of skills moms come equipped with, all of which they would not have had the opportunity to develop if they had remained within a role leveraging the same skills every day. These include, but are certainly not limited to, increased productivity, efficiency, empathy and a greater capacity to multitask.
They are also likely to return to the workplace with a renewed sense of motivation. Having made the emotional decision to return to work and spend time away from their child or children, they will be determined and committed to getting the most out of their time at work. As a result, they will be amongst the hardest-working individuals in any given team.
In addition, moms returning to work will bring a fresh and valuable new perspective to the company. For any business, especially those targeting a consumer audience, a significant proportion of their target market will likely be moms. So, it makes perfect sense to have moms’ voices heard in the workplace and their perspectives reflected in the way the business operates.
Employers need to be asking themselves if they know what motivates moms to return to the workplace, and what strategies can be used to engage this valuable and underrepresented talent pool. As a demographic facing specific challenges and needs, it is important for businesses to devise a targeted strategy to attract, engage and retain this unique group of talented individuals.
With employees increasingly wanting businesses to be more ‘human’ in their approach, flexible working is becoming more prominent, which is something all parents value greatly. In many instances, moms still handle the lion’s share of childcare, which historically held them back in their careers. Flexible working policies help address this situation. An organization that embraces flexible working not only attracts moms to the workplace and gives them the best chance of thriving but also will see more extensive benefits across the whole of the workforce, with increased employee retention and productivity.
Despite this, 60% of moms that return to work are still worried about their requests for flexible working being rejected because of the stigma around it.
We need to move on from the idea that flexible working is a favor. Instead, employers must embrace flexible working policies, such as allowing staff to work from home, or allowing them to best structure their day while 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.
93% of women say it is hard to combine a successful career with caring responsibilities. Employers that provide onsite childcare, therefore, give themselves a huge advantage in attracting talented professionals who have taken a career break to have children.
For employers who cannot provide onsite childcare, offering other family-friendly policies, such as extended maternity leave, can also be a key differentiator when looking to retain current talent or compete against other employers for future talent.
Identifying Transferable Skills
Employers should consider whether their interview process will allow them to identify valuable transferrable skills in those who have taken a career break to have a child. Recognizing that examples of problem-solving or other skills may not necessarily come from a professional environment, and being open about this during the interview process, will ensure that employers have the best chance of identifying high-caliber candidates from this talent pool.
Despite the considerable value that moms returning to work can offer a business, there remain countless barriers standing in their way, including discrimination at the recruitment process and a failure to support women once they return to work. An incredible 90 percent of immediate returners said that they received no support through returner programs or one-to-one coaching, while 92 percent felt a dedicated program 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 productive and motivated staff.