Re-entering the workforce can be an extremely daunting task for women who have taken time to raise their children. Many feel as though the traditional structures of employment are incompatible with their busy lifestyles and numerous responsibilities. After undertaking what for many is one of the most challenging and rewarding tasks of their lives, many back-to-work mums feel like the skills they have developed as parents are not valued by available permanent employment options.
According to a study done by The Heat Group, almost 70 per cent of Australian mother's believe that the skills that they’ve developed as a parent are of great benefit in the workplace, making them more employable. To begin with, mum’s tend to be especially adaptable and competent at responding to unexpected circumstances. Jelena Zikic expresses this sentiment in The Harvard Business Review, recognising that parents gain that ability to “reflect and adapt together with [their] children,” consequently making them exceptionally capable of learning from their mistakes. Additionally, Zikic notes that back-to-work mums tend to have excellent people management skills. As they are used to creating safe and comfortable environments for their children, back-to-work mums often nurture a culture in the workplace where “psychological safety comes first,” and co-workers feel comfortable to voice their concerns, ideas and needs.
Moreover, Gillian Franklin, Managing Director of The Heat Group, asserts that "mums are the ultimate multi-tasers. Their ability to manage a multitude of responsibilities at home translates especially well into the workplace, making them “capable of churning through work tasks more efficiently.” Skills such as these can make these workers invaluable members of the workforce, with benefits felt for both the employee and employer.
Despite their vast variety of applicable skills, many back-to-work mums struggle to re-establish their place within the workforce. In fact, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there are more than 2.1 million women aged 25-45 who are underemployed within Australia. FlexCareers CEO, Natalie Goldman, believes the reason for this to be that women struggle to re-enter the workforce at a similar level as to when they left, as there are “numerous obstacles and barriers” for them.
The solution? Goldman believes that “Flexible work is the key enabler to return to work successfully.”
Contract work can be the perfect option for working mothers. The flexibility and control that it allows workers can be of invaluable assistance when trying to navigate their changing work-life balance. Libby Low, a working mother of two, claims that “a part-time and flexible workforce is essential in this and age.” Through taking control of their working hours and place of work, contractors can create a unique working approach that compliments their individual lifestyle and commitments. In this way, individuals can assure that they eradicate any negative work-life conflict, that 90 per cent of working mothers in America claim to experience. Additionally, the short-term nature of most contract jobs allows contractors to continually reconfigure their professional lives around unexpected family commitments that may emerge. This structure can be of great benefit to working mums, as their responsibilities and time-commitments are constantly changing as their children age. Contract employment provides this ability. It values the life experience and diversity of the workers, allowing them to enjoy a far more flexible and variable working environment.