Work­ing par­ents re­ward un­der­stand­ing bosses

The Southland Times - - BUSINESS - JULIE ILES

With school hol­i­days en­ter­ing their sec­ond week, work­ing par­ents still have five days left of fit­ting rou­tine-free kids into their work­ing sched­ule.

Emily Richards, a di­rec­tor of Dunedin-based re­cruit­ment agency Hu­man Con­nec­tions Group and a mother of two, said the school hol­i­days were made less painful by a ‘‘very child-friendly’’ of­fice. Her six-year-old daugh­ter will spend the next week at work with her, kept oc­cu­pied by games and puz­zles in the of­fice.

‘‘In pre­vi­ous roles that I’ve had, and with man­agers who didn’t have chil­dren, there was a lack of un­der­stand­ing for the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties that come with be­ing a par­ent, and the im­pact school hol­i­days can have on one’s work life,’’ she said.

The im­por­tance of flex­i­bil­ity is re­in­forced by MYOB’s lat­est busi­ness mon­i­tor sur­vey of more than 1000 small busi­ness op­er­a­tors which found 36 per cent de­fined busi­ness suc­cess as the ‘‘flex­i­bil­ity to do what they want’’, and only 11 per cent de­fined it as mak­ing a good profit.

MYOB gen­eral man­ager Carolyn Luey, also a mother of two, said busi­ness own­ers with chil­dren tended to have a dif­fer­ent opin­ion of what suc­cess looked like.

‘‘Let’s not sugar-coat it – I know first-hand that jug­gling young chil­dren and a full-time ca­reer is hard.

‘‘But it’s also ex­tremely re­ward­ing and I firmly be­lieve there is noth­ing wrong with want­ing the best of both worlds.’’

As a re­cruit­ment ex­pert, Richards said she had seen par­ent job­hunters place more worth on flex- ible work­ing hours than on high salaries.

‘‘For par­ents, flex­i­bil­ity is worth more than money any day of the week and the dis­cre­tionary ef­fort par­ent em­ploy­ees give back to man­agers for that type of un­der­stand­ing is worth a lot of money.’’ An Ernst & Young re­port found that women in flex­i­ble work were the most pro­duc­tive mem­bers of the work­force. They wasted only 11.1 per cent of their time, com­pared to an av­er­age 14.5 per cent of the rest of the work­force.

Richards said miss­ing an im­por­tant meet­ing be­cause of a child was not the end of the world.

‘‘You’re not mak­ing up ex­cuses, you’re ask­ing for un­der­stand­ing and em­pa­thy – and a ma­jor­ity of peo­ple are de­cent enough to give you that.’’

Carolyn Luey

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