As much as 84pc of female working professionals in Ireland see a flexible working policy as crucial to managing motherhood and holding down a demanding job, a new study commissioned by Citrix reveals. However, an untapped talent pool exists because of prohibitive childcare costs and employers’ inflexibility around remote working.
In a sad reflection of business culture in Ireland, 55pc of the participants in the study of the views of 300 working professional women conducted by iReach said they felt companies across the country will never fully trust their employees to work outside the office effectively.
This concurs with an earlier Citrix study, in which 73pc of employers cited lack of trust in employees as the main reason behind not implementing flexible working policies.
Under new changes to tax maternity benefit, mothers may lose out on up to €2,700 per child. This equates to 10 less weeks of maternity leave benefit versus the previous tax system.
A flexible working policy in Irish business would mean new mothers would at least be in a better position to return to work sooner if they had to for financial reasons.
Positive work environments
The study indicates that 63pc 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 (47pc of respondents) and a better ability to juggle work and family life (40pc) are viewed as the primary benefits of a flexible working culture.
“We know that implementing work/life blending practices not only opens up opportunities for business to grow but it also gets ‘buy in’ and real commitment from female workers or those returning from maternity leave,” said Jane Downes, a career coach at Clearview Coaching Group.
“The survey backs this up with clear evidence. The antiquated status quo maintains gender inequality – open up job share, part-time or flexible working options to some brilliant and skilled women who are at home frustrated or trying to make their career work for them, post-maternity leave, and just watch what happens.”
Not adopting a flexible working policy is a missed opportunity for businesses and workers alike, said Citrix Ireland country manager Grace O’Rourke Veitch.
“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,” said O’Rourke Veitch.