Businesses need to be more flexible to retain women returners

Here’s why

A new report, “Bringing Talent Back to the Workforce: How to make returner programmes work for your organization” by the Executive Coaching Consultancy has highlighted that businesses are losing out on women returners because of a lack of workplace flexibility.

One in six women return to work in a different function and 38 per cent change industry sector saying their current job offers more flexibility than the one they had prior to taking a break (59 per cent). The report highlighted the personal constraints and professional challenges faced by women returning to work and what an employer can do to ensure their return is a success.

It found that over half (54 per cent) of women that have returned say that striking a comfortable balance between home and work responsibilities is the biggest challenge in their professional and work life, and highlighted that their biggest personal constraint to returning to work was finding alternative care arrangements for their children (46 per cent).

Networking, which is critical for career advancement for most professional roles, was ranked as the second highest professional challenge (51 per cent) by returners as home responsibilities reduce their availability to participate in networking events held outside regular office hours.

Almost one in four returners struggled with self-confidence which suggests even the most confident professional will experience a dip in confidence on their return.

Adrian Lewis Director at Activ Absence said: “I am not surprised by this report. Many employers fear flexibility, but as this survey shows, offering flexible working is a cost effective benefit that is hugely appreciated by staff.  The failure to provide flexible working options means that businesses risk losing precious female talent.”

“Today most people have Wi-Fi and smart phones and can work as seamlessly at home as in the office. Additionally, if employers set clear boundaries and policies around flexible working, monitor performance and invest in the technology needed to ensure they have visibility of who is working and when, there is nothing to fear.  It is far more expensive to recruit and train new people. 

“Businesses mustn’t assume that flexible working is ‘just for Mums’, Dads will want to share childcare responsibilities too when their partners return to work and businesses need to be more flexible.”

Copies of the research are available to download at: https://executive-coaching.co.uk

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