In April, the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) released an Employee Outlook report which highlights the fact that 65% of flexible workers say they are satisfied or very satisfied with their work-life balance, compared with a mere 47% of employees who don’t have flexible working. There is a positive effect for employers in recruiting, engaging and retaining happier employees. Timewise’s latest Flexible Jobs Index 2016, released in the same month, shows signs of cautious optimism of an increase in the proportion of quality jobs being advertised with flexible options, up 2.5% on last year. But supply still lags far behind an increasing demand for new ways to bridge the flexibility gap: 79% of people searching for part time or flexible roles remain unable to find options that would work for them. Start to bridge the flexible working gap A large proportion of people seeking flexible working have extensive previous experience and valuable transferable skills that can be used in a variety of situations. With the rise of remote working technology, the emergence of cloud-based software and demands for a better work-life balance, there are many opportunities for employers to recognise the value of a flexible working arrangement that will support their business, and that will avoid them missing out on the best available talent. By acknowledging the available pool of talent out there, employers can get ahead of the competition and make some key hires that will help them to achieve their business goals. How do you make a flexible working arrangement work best? Negotiate an arrangement that works for employers and employees, based on a model that will support that specific business. Focus on delivering improved results and successful business outcomes, rather than time spent in the office or visibility. Ensure that there is a shift in managers' skills in managing performance effectively for flexible workers. In larger companies, for flexible working to have a positive impact, everyone in the company needs to support the initiative from the top down, and to be shown the clear benefits of any flexible arrangements. More experience for less time and cost can work especially well for start-ups or smaller businesses, but benefits also stand true for larger, more established organisations. Employers can make a pragmatic decision to make use of experienced workers, who may be available for less time in a week but who are capable of adding more value. For employees, alongside increased job satisfaction and more targeted productivity, a flexible working arrangement means no longer being excluded from decently paid roles and from enjoying fulfilling careers Join our community: we match and connect like-minded employers and employees If you are an employer wishing to access our talent pool of highly experienced and motivated women wanting to work flexibly, find out more on our employers page. If you are a mother looking for flexible working options, register with us today and become part of our growing community at 2to3days.com.
Everyone knows that great companies, regardless of size, are only as good as the people who work for them. Which is why they’re constantly on the lookout for bright, experienced and productive talent – people who will contribute the most to their growth and competitiveness. The million-dollar question for these companies: where and how do I find these people, without expending huge amounts of time and money in the process? Here’s the irony: they may well be sitting right under your nose. There’s a large (and growing) pool of hidden talent which in my experience is often overlooked in the search for new hires. These people are highly educated, experienced, fizzing with ideas and energy. What’s more, they’re the most productive and motivated sector of the workforce. Who are they? Simply, they are mothers who want to work part-time, so they can balance work and family commitments. Surprised? Have a look at the astounding results of a survey my company carried out last year of 5,000 mothers looking for part-time work, registered on the 2to3days.com website. Educated – 84% of them have a bachelor’s degree, 34% have a master’s degree, 14% a doctorate – they are smart cookies! Experienced – 62% have between 10-29 years’ work experience; 83% have managerial experience of which 2.5% at C-suite Responsible – collectively they were responsible for managing over £25 billion Socially conscious – 15% are both Board members as well as school governors and 38% also put time aside to act as mentors Who in their right mind wouldn’t want a bit of that pixie dust? Some ‘dinosaur’ companies view these mothers as a nuisance and far from the ideal employee, and sideline them as a result. More fool they! A study by Ernst & Young has found women working part-time are the most productive in the workforce. They get in, they get out and they get the job done; their time is precious – and because they value it and know how to manage it properly, they will value your company’s time too. Loyalty and motivation are two other attributes in which this demographic excels. Companies know they are getting the value of a full-time brain for a part-time cost. According to McKinsey, companies across all sectors with the most women on their boards of directors significantly and consistently outperform those with no female representation – by 41% in terms of return on equity and by 56% in terms of operating results. The best companies balance their workforce and exploit the full spectrum of working practices – full and part time, at work and home – to keep their people happy and get the very best out of them. Companies that can’t adapt are missing a trick. Increasingly they will be seen as outmoded, unappealing and worse, simply uncompetitive.
Making the wardrobe transition from the school gates to career professional can feel daunting. We've spoken to fashion psychologists and style consultants tfor their top ten tips on how to get out the door well dressed - and on time. 1. First up Unfortunately it seems we humans are a bit of a judgemental bunch. According to fashion psychologist, Kate Nightingale, even before you shake hands with someone, they have made all sorts of assumptions about you. Recent studies from New York University show you have precisely 3 seconds to make a good first impression! No pressure then... “We don’t really have any control over it,” says Nightingale, adding that the process is part of an evolutionary trait, where after only the briefest of encounters with someone, we are employing the same parts of the brain we use in both emotional learning and summing up the value of an object. “In tribal societies, we would be assessing facial features, hair, colours, and embellishments to make decisions about another,” she explains, “Now, we’re also looking at the colours, fabrics, shape and cut of our clothes.” 2. Communicate through colour Two hundred years ago, the lighter the colours you wore, the higher your status. Wearing darker clothes, meant you were more likely you to have a lowly job. But over time, darker colours and of course in particular, black, have become the ultimate shades for power dressing and business. We might think wearing black is the best way to boost our confidence and yet wearing a brighter colour can have a really positive affect on our mood. Wardrobe consultant and personal stylist, Becky Redpath says that finding a colour that suits you is the quickest and easiest way to give yourself a physical and emotional boost. She helps clients sort out which colours suit them by simply dividing the colour palette between cool or warm, and matching subtle fabric shades with natural skin colour. “Wearing the right colour for you is the best kind of face lift,” says Redpath. “ It is amazing how much difference it can make to the way you look.” Colours can also have quite a psychological impact. For example, yellow is said to encourage creative thinking, while green is the colour of harmony and great to wear if you’re feeling tired or drained. And there are cultural expressions too. For example, in the West, red is a colour expressing passion, and confidence, whereas in Asia it signifies prosperity and happiness. 3. Invest in a well-cut suit Clothing is all about the symbolic. One study showed that when participants donned lab coats while working, concentration levels and attention spans increased dramatically. There’s no doubt about it, wearing a suit to work gets you noticed. And for women, this research seems to show the more masculine and well cut the suit, the more likely you are to get the job. So, when dressing for work, think a plain shirt, rather than something printed and a tailor made suit rather than a dress. This study from the University of Hertfordshire showed that wearing a shorter skirt to work meant you were more likely to be overlooked for promotion. It also suggested dressing in a similar way to your boss may well be the answer for getting what you want! 4. Whatever we wear affects our thoughts and mood In her book Mind What You Wear, Professor Karen Pine posits research that demonstrated when we’re feeling down, we reinforce and even amplify negative feelings if we dress in a way that expresses our mood. Choosing an uplifting outfit and making an effort, despite not feeling like it, can actually lift our spirits, making us feel happier and more confident. 5. Plan ahead Scrabbling around looking for something to wear, while trying to get yourself – and the kids - out the door is stressful. A little bit of organising goes a long way. Decide what you’re going to wear the night before or stick a list of favourite outfits on the inside of your wardrobe. This might sound over the top but when you’re in the midst of early morning panic, quickly reminding yourself of what goes together might just save you being late. 6. Buy one amazing jacket you can wear with everything If you spend money on just one item in your wardrobe – this is it. A well-cut jacket will lift any look in seconds. 7. Accessorise Inexpensively add a wow factor with a few carefully chosen accessories. You might pare down your overall style for work but accessories can reflect your personality and brighten up a more conservative look. 8. Buy basics in bulk For an easy way to link you wardrobe together, buy multiples of basic items that you love: t-shirts, tights, shirts and even trousers – but don’t go colour crazy. Stick to the neutral shades to make matching easy. 9. Don’t be afraid to change your look Many women stick to a style that suited them when they were younger and feel too afraid to change. As Professor Pine, puts it: “ Your clothing needs to evolve and reflect who you are as you go through life,” she says. “That means paying attention, learning about yourself and what makes you feel good. Let go of the past and embrace new looks. “ She has developed an online programme to help women develop their clothes confidence through experimentation. Called Wear Something Different it encourages women to try new looks and express themselves through colour, style and developing their own sense of fashion. 10. And finally - stand tall in your clothes! Relax your shoulders and breath into your chest area. According to this Harvard Business school study, the right posture can mean a larger pay cheque!
With a global turnover of £200m and a staff of just 43, Frances Dickens’ company, AstusUK has conquered the UK media barter market – while creating a culture that encourages mothers (and fathers) back to work. Dickens maintains that businesses need to recognise the wealth of life experience and transferable skills that returning mothers bring. She is convinced small companies need to help mothers set their own hours, making it easier for them to return to work or they will “miss out on a massive piece of the talent pool.” Can you explain what media barter is? Our business allows clients to pay for advertising with their own goods and services, which therefore lowers the cost of advertising. For example, a car manufacturer can use their cars to pay for a portion of their advertising costs which is cheaper than paying 100% in cash. When did you start the business and how has it grown? We started in 2003 and we are now the UK’s biggest media barter specialist with around 50% of the market. Our philosophy has always been to focus on doing a good job, and growth will naturally follow – which it has. You support flexible working – can you tell us why? It makes good business sense. If you invest in people, you are investing in the future of a happy team, and a happy team means you have a more productive business. Imagine if you had an inflexible approach with clients – you wouldn’t last long! How has it contributed to the success of your business? We’ve found that people working for us appreciate that we are prepared to listen to their needs and our loyalty inspires loyalty. We get far more out of people because we are flexible. In fact I think that everyone ends up doing the same amount of work – but in less time. Women here know they can have a baby and expect to come back. And it is the same for fathers too. Many of our dads want to be at the school gates for drop off and pick up and we are really happy for them to do so. It’s not just parents who want flexibility – someone might want to go to the gym at 10am instead of lunchtime and that is okay too. 50% of our staff are women however we recruit based on who is best for the job not on gender – I don’t like diversity quotas. You’re a mother to an 18-year-old boy – how was it for you to go back into the workplace after he was born? It was so difficult. I had to be bloody-minded in order to make it work. I left at 5:30 to pick him up from nursery but this was usually ignored, so I often had to walk out of client meetings and of course I dreaded that. I would not want to put anyone under that kind of pressure. I want people to be happy to say they have children and that is the open culture I have tried to create in my own business. As a back-to-work mother what skills do you acquire at home that are important for the workplace? There are numerous transferable skills: organisation; dedication; keeping calm; multi-tasking, forecasting and forward planning – to name just a few. Mothers often return to work with more determination and professionalism. There is a real maturity in becoming a parent – you certainly don’t have the problem of being tired at your desk from a big night out! How are companies missing out if they don’t encourage mothers back to work? They’re missing out on a large part of the talent pool and that is just crazy. Investing in people and then walking away from that investment is simply not a good business decision. Some people have said we need to refocus maternity leave as if it were a gap year – do you agree? That’s a very good point – going sailing and lying on a beach in a gap year is accepted and yet returning to work from maternity leave is seen very differently. We need to reframe the positive aspects of becoming a parent. How do you encourage mothers back into the workplace? It’s about sitting down, listening and working out individual needs. You can’t have a one size fits all package because everybody is different. With all of our parents, it’s a case of working out the best possible scenario. Smaller companies often say it’s easier for larger organisations to offer flexible working – do you agree with this? Actually, I think it’s easier for us to be flexible because we are small. Larger companies might try but they often have a more “cookie cutter,” one size fits all approach but it doesn’t work like that in reality, because everyone needs something different. We don’t have an HR policy. We just want to create a situation where we all enjoy coming to work. Are there any difficulties with the flexible model and how have you overcome them? I don’t find it difficult – we just put the effort in and it’s paid back every time. However, I would say that organisation and communication are crucial. You have to create a culture where people can be open and say what they need but the flexible model also relies on mothers getting their home life in order. By that I mean you might have to accept that as a working mum or dad, you simply aren’t going to be able to be everywhere. As a mother, in order to work flexibly, you will need to create a home situation where partners and other people can take the pressure off you. Balance is important. Do we need to change the narrative around part-time/flexible work and how do we do this? You can’t change a situation by ignoring it. Employers need to recognise that parents wanting to spend time with their children is not a situation that is going to go away. It does no good to box someone in the corner when they’re back from maternity leave and expect them to perform. You have to embrace people and help them by creating a culture of openness. Senior women need to help other women and men need to be more vocal about wanting to spend time at home. What would be the ideal working situation and what should we, as a society, be working towards? The workplace should reflect the world as it is and be a proper representation of society. If it fails to do this, we all run the risk of missing out. What we want to do for working mums, we need to do for working dads too, so the next generation can see both mum and dad helping out at home and going to work.