A survey of Irish female professionals, commissioned by Citrix Ireland and conducted by iReach, indicates that 84 per cent of female working professionals view a flexible working policy as crucial to managing motherhood and a demanding job – yet this is not the reality in many businesses today, despite the prospect of retaining an integral cross section of talent and appeasing the impact of new maternity leave tax rules.
As recent legislation sees women across Ireland re-evaluate returning to work after maternity leave, the study indicates that 63 per cent of the women surveyed see a direct positive impact on productivity in work environments with a flexible working policy. Further, a reduction in stress levels and feeling more in control (47 per cent of respondents) and a better ability to juggle work and family life (40 per cent) are viewed as the primary benefits of a flexible working culture. The survey also indicates that there is potentially an “untapped talent pool” of workers who are in some way prohibited from working either because of childcare costs or employers inflexibility.
When working women with children were asked if they felt the business culture in Ireland is improving in favour of flexible working, 55 per cent said they felt that companies across the country will never fully trust their employees to work outside of the office effectively. This sentiment concurs with a survey of Irish business decision makers conducted earlier this year in which 73 per cent of employers cited lack of trust of employees as the main reason behind not implementing flexible working policies.
Not adopting a flexible working policy is a missed opportunity for businesses and workers alike. There is a need to reassess working options for the modern working mother. Women want to work, they enjoy their jobs – and for employers there is a huge opportunity to capitalise on that through a more inclusive environment.
New maternity benefit tax rules arguably see many families out of pocket; this study indicates that employers could retain a vital cross section of talent and appease the impact of new tax rules by investing in flexible work practises, to help working women return to work sooner if they have to – the technology is available to do this. Ultimately, adopting a new way of working can ease the pressure on people to be at a desk from nine to five– when it’s not imperative to their role.