How can Middle Eastern businesses get professional women back into the workforce after maternity? By introducing greater flexibility, near-site crèche facilities, increased use of video-conferencing technology and more job sharing, say Middle Eastern respondents in latest Regus survey interviewing over 26,000 business people from more than 90 countries. Given that authorities agree that higher participation of women in the workforce is vital to sustaining and driving growth, the tide of professional women still finding that the burden of child care forces them out of employment after maternity needs urgently to be stemmed.
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.
Interestingly, more vacation days were the least popular measure selected by respondents as critical to help women get back to work after maternity, highlighting that radical changes to work habits are required rather than additional days of rest.
Middle Eastern workers report that critical measures to encourage women back to work after maternity are:
- Flexible working hours (92 per cent)
- Option to work closer to home (91 per cent)
- Near-site crèche facilities (85 per cent)
- The option to choose video-conferencing over travel at least some of the time (70 per cent)
- Job sharing (65 per cent)
Only 64 per cent of respondents believe more vacation days are the solution to getting more working mothers back into employment. Yet 50 per cent think that hiring returning mothers can improve productivity.
Garry Gürtler, VP for Middle East and Africa, Regus, comments: “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. Even on a business level the benefits of re-integrating women after maternity are plenty: access to skilled and trained workers, less staff turnover and even increased productivity as this survey reveals. Yet the workforce continues to lose able and trained workers with key skills and qualifications as women find the burden of childcare of cannot be reconciled with working life.
“But 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. As working habits globally evolve in favour of greater flexibility, this research suggests that changes in working practices are particularly urgently required for returning mothers whose contribution to the business and the economy is otherwise hampered.”