Is the Mummy Workforce Being Underutilised in Small Business?


Is the Mummy Workforce Being Underutilised in Small Business?

At swimming lessons last week, I ran into a Mum I’d never met before. I’d seen her a couple of times running in flustered straight from work, rushing to catch the last dive or stroke. But this was the first time we’d come face to face.

We got talking and I found out the reason I’d never met her was the inflexible nature of her job. She worked in a small business, as an administrative assistant, and as a result of her not feeling as though she could be an effective employee and Mum, she’d quit.

But it wasn’t an easy decision, she was conflicted. She loved her job and hadn’t wanted to leave. But increasing work pressures and not seeing her kids, along with the rising costs and lack of childcare in the area had led to burn out.

In an effort to find compromise she had proposed an alternative arrangement to her employer. Her job didn’t require a physical presence in the office so she mapped out a plan that saw her working half of the week from home.

The proposal was knocked back. Feeling dejected and with stress mounting, she felt she had no choice but to move on.

The Rise of the Reluctant Mumpreneur

Revealing her main plan was to go into business for herself as a Virtual Assistant, I noted a tone of reluctance, and I was right. She didn’t think that business ownership was for her and would just love to have a secure but flexible ‘clock in, clock out’ job. At this point though, she didn’t see many other options and as it turns out, she is not alone.

In 2016 The University of Sydney published an opinion piece on the research of Dr Meraiah Foley, after she surveyed 60 self-employed mothers in Australia, about their employment opportunities and business choices.

In the article she says;

I surveyed and interviewed 60 self-employed mothers about why they started their own businesses instead of staying with their previous employers or seeking new jobs.

Inhospitable workplace cultures and the high cost of childcare were the two main factors. About two-thirds of the women surveyed cited inflexible work schedules, poor quality part-time jobs, and discriminatory attitudes towards part-time and flexible workers as the main push factors. Among these were six women who were made redundant while pregnant or on maternity leave, echoing findings from the Australian Human Rights Commission that women with children still face high levels of discrimination in Australian workplaces.

For others, the inability to find suitable affordable childcare on the days and times they needed it left self-employment as their only viable alternative.

The Sad Truth About Mumpreneurs, Katie Booth – The University of Sydney, News & Opinion

What Can You Do As A Business Owner and Employer?

As employers we have a unique perspective on this issue within our businesses. I am one of those Mumpreneurs. As a result we understand the challenges faced by working parents and, where available, can adjust our business expectations to accommodate employees seeking a more balanced work and home life.

And I’m seeing this happen in other businesses more and more. I frequent an online store that does 100% of its business as an e-commerce site, with an option for postage or local pickup from the warehouse. Their physical hours are 10am – 3pm, and this was by design as they are predominately staffed by parents and primary carers of school age children. Not surprisingly, their productivity is high, staff turnover is low and the business itself runs profitably and with minimal issues.

As the cost of living increases and childcare is becoming increasing difficult to secure, there is an army of willing and capable parents seeking flexible employment arrangements. An untapped resource that is ready, willing and available to work.

Given internet access and remote working capabilities, many businesses have the ability to become more agile, thus more family friendly. Family friendly businesses mean happier, less stressed employees. And happy employees mean a more productive and loyal workforce.

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