In January 2020, Tiger Recruitment hosted a roundtable discussion with an intimate group of HR professionals to discuss the reintegration of parents into the workplace. Further to that discussion, we produced a report that highlights best practices, stigmas and the future of return-to-work (RTW) policies. It also details why attracting RTW parents should be an immediate priority for businesses.
There has also never been a better time for your clients to do so. For example, according to ONS figures released in February 2020, women are increasingly returning to the workplace, with 150, 000 more women in full-time work between October-December 2019 than the previous quarter. The previous quarter saw a record-number 15.58 million women in the workplace, evidence of an upwards trend. While this is in part due to the retirement age for women being raised from 60 to 65, BBC reported the number “was also boosted by fewer women remaining economically inactive to care for children and other relatives”. The increased number means there are more women looking for a job that your clients can attract and harness their potential.
While RTW policies will mostly affect women returning after maternity leave, we believe RTW policies should aim to attract all parents – below are three reasons why you should raise this issue with your clients when discussing their hiring strategy:
Overcome the skills shortage
The UK is currently experiencing its lowest unemployment rate since 1974, at 3.8%. The unemployment rate has been on the decline since September 2018, which has caused severe skills shortages in some businesses and sectors. As of April-June 2019, however, 24.9% of mothers and 7.4% of fathers with dependent children weren’t working in the UK. Recruiters and employers can aim to attract this segment of the population through better return-to-work (RTW) policies and practices. So, if your client hasn’t considered this segment of the population up ‘til now, it’s worth looking at alternative ways to attract them, such as improving flexibility and implementing other family-friendly benefits.
Improve diversity quotas
Improved RTW policies could also impact diversity quotas for some companies. We’re seeing a stark lack of diversity in IT, engineering and construction. Tech giants in the US such as Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Facebook have published their diversity statistics since 2014, but have only increased their female workforce by a small percentage. While it’s not easy for women to enter these fields due to inherent biases, it may also be due to a lack of considerations for RTW mothers throughout the hiring process. For example, Facebook has only managed to increase its female workforce from 15% to 23% over a five-year period, while Apple and Microsoft’s female workforces increased by just 3%. If we encourage our clients to eliminate biases against RTW parents in the hiring process, they should, in turn, see their diversity numbers rise.
Retain intellectual property
The average age of first-time mums is 31 in the UK. That means that, if a woman starts her career in her early 20’s and leaves when she has her first child, the company will lose ten years of intellectual property per person. So, it’s imperative for a business to attract these women back into the workplace following their maternity leave. This is a particular problem for certain industries where the working hours aren’t flexible enough for mothers, such as the finance and banking sectors in the City. One of our roundtable attendees, when talking about her experience with mothers returning from leave, said she saw a half of them choosing not to return to the busy finance company because of the long hours. If your clients are open to offering flexible working to these returning employees, this may curb the number of women forced to leave their roles.