For More Bang for Your Buck, Hire a Mom Part‑Time And Give Her Flexible Hours
Mothers who work part-time and have control over their hours put in, on average, 20 minutes of unpaid extra work each week, finds a new study from the University of Kent.
Part-time and flexible working hours have long been seen as the ticket to retaining women in the workforce — a critical mission in India, where women’s participation in the workforce is abysmal; of women who do work, many are pulled out of their careers roughly around the age of parenthood: the middle managerial level is only 21% women, a percentage that continues to fall sharply the farther up the chain you go.
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But while these working styles are being increasingly adopted by employers — a 2018 report suggests 95% of Indian professionals believe flexible working arrangements are good for business — perceptions may have yet to catch up in practice. A Harvard Business Review report has found 55% of Indian women encounter workplace bias severe enough to make them consider scaling back their career goals, reducing their ambition and engagement, or quitting altogether. Earlier research by Heejung Chung, PhD, one of the researchers behind this latest study and a professor in the University’s School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research, found 40% of part-time workers worry stigma against flexible and part-time working arrangement will impede their careers. Combined, this suggests that mothers with non-traditional working arrangements might feel they have something to prove.
The latest study found that part-time and flexibly working mothers weren’t the only workers to put in extra time without pay; professional men and women without children also put in extra time each week — roughly 1 hour and 40 minutes respectively. Full-time working mothers did not put in extra time, perhaps, Chung theorizes, because they are maxed out. Also perhaps, as other research has shown, because working mothers are known to be the most efficiently productive workers.
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Chung says the study should counter any perception that part-time and flexible working arrangements yield less valuable work.
“Another point to note is that, unlike popular perceptions, we also do not find much evidence that those who take up flexible working arrangements for family/care purposes reduce their work loads,” she says. “Employers need to be made more aware of this, to tackle our perception against those working flexibly.”