Why working mums should not be discounted
Whether women choose to work because they are career-focused and simply love their job, or they need to in order to meet the monthly mortgage payments, there’s no escaping the fact that mums make up a big part of New Zealand’s workforce.
The idyllic scene of a housewife in the kitchen, donning a pinnie and whipping up a batch of biscuits as her kids lick the spoon may have been commonplace in the 1950s, but in 2015, it’s a rather different picture. More and more, we find mothers working outside of the home for the majority of the week.
For those who take time out from their careers to have a family, returning to work can be challenging on a number of levels. Not only are they juggling home life with work commitments, but there is often a loss of confidence and a sense of having been left behind while their colleagues have forged ahead with their careers.
However, a 2014 Microsoft study that surveyed 2000 women and 500 employers found that the majority in both groups believe that becoming a mother actually improves women’s performance at work, despite common prejudices that suggest the opposite. The study showed that female employees with children are viewed by their bosses as better team players and multi-taskers. People skills also showed signs of improvement post-kids, with employees saying mums became more appreciative of their colleagues and clients once they became parents.
So, what is it that makes mothers such stellar employees?
They are phenomenal multi-taskers. Managing school schedules, business trips, swimming lessons, meetings, rugby practice, homework, deadlines and putting dinner on the table is no easy feat. But mums do it. Every day.
They work hard. Mums, especially those just returning from maternity leave, may spend less physical time in the office than their colleagues, but that doesn’t mean the work isn’t getting done. If anything, working parents are driven by a desire to prove detractors wrong. Being a good parent and a good employee don’t need to be mutually exclusive and they are dead set determined to show it.
They make great managers. If you’ve ever tried reasoning with a four-year-old who wants a cupcake at 5pm then you already know what we mean. But it’s not only their negotiation and conflict resolution skills that make mothers such effective managers, mums are also constantly teaching, so are well suited to mentor junior team members too.
They value their jobs. Many working mothers take on flexible working arrangements, often part-time with an accompanying pay cut. But this doesn’t mean they’re not taking work-related calls or checking their emails when they’re not at their desks. For many, having a job that allows them to be the mum they want to be, while also fuelling their need for intellectual stimulation, means they will go above and beyond to keep their employer happy.
As hirers, it’s important not to discount this group simply because they chose to have a family and a career. The skills and approach they bring to the business are unique and beneficial.