Women prefer flexible work over more leave days

PHOTO: Women prefer flexible work over more leave days

SINGAPORE - Professional women are more likely to re-join the workforce after maternity if there is greater flexibility, improved childcare resources, increased vacation and other measures in place, a study has found.

Singaporean respondents in a survey of 26,000 business professionals from 90 countries said that women would return to work if there was greater flexibility; near-site day care facilities; increased use of video-conferencing technology; more vacation days; and more job sharing.

The survey conducted by Regus found that while governments have urged higher female participation in the workforce, many professional women are still finding that the burden of child care forces them out of employment after maternity.

Not only are returning mothers key to economic development, but at a business-by-business level, respondents reported that hiring returning mothers helps improve productivity, possibly by lowering training and hiring costs.

This result confirms previous Regus research revealing that 56 per cent of businesses globally value part-time returning mothers because they offer skills and experience which are difficult to find in the current market and 72 per cent believe that companies that ignore part-time returning mothers are missing out on a significant and valuable part of the employment pool. 

Respondents also said that they preferred having more flexibility in work practices over having more vacation days.

This could mean that radical changes to work habits are more urgently required than additional days of rest, Regus said.

Key Findings and Statistics

Singapore workers report that critical measures to encourage women back to work after maternity are: Flexible working hours (97 per cent)

  • Option to work closer to home (95 per cent)
  • Near-site crèche facilities (88 per cent)
  • The option to choose video-conferencing over travel at least some of the time (88 per cent)
  • More vacation days (70 per cent)
  • Job sharing (68 per cent)

64 per cent think that hiring returning mothers can improve productivity.

John Henderson, Regus APAC Regional Director: "There is a strong case for the greater inclusion of returning mothers in the workforce: increased GDP, sustained growth, bridging the skills gap and fighting poverty are just some of the benefits."

On a business level, the benefits of re-integrating women after maternity include access to skilled and trained workers, less staff turnover and increased productivity.

"This latest survey reveals that workers overwhelmingly identify greater flexibility in terms of working hours and location as the solution to get more women back on board after maternity," Mr Henderson added.