Are virtual teams more important than you think?

Mother holding her son - Is flexible work more important than you think?

The cost of childcare has been all over the news. Of particular concern is the fact that childcare (or lack of it) can keep people out of the workforce – but does it really play such a key role?


If you are an employer who thinks that the cost of childcare is the main reason your employees who become parents don’t return to the workforce, you’re not alone. According to a Kronos study last year, which surveyed an impressive 2000 people, many employers think that the cost of childcare is the main reason employees who are parents don’t stay in the workforce.


Childcare certainly is expensive and is becoming more expensive with every year. According to a report in June this year by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling, over the past five years child care prices rose by 44.2 per cent.


However, the cost of childcare is not the main concern for working parents.


Kronos did an interesting piece of research last year that shed some light. All of the women surveyed (96.7 per cent) were keen to return to work after a career break such as parenthood, if their employers offered flexible working hours.


The report found that working hours are the number one barrier preventing employees from making a return to work after a career break. Almost three-quarters (72 per cent) of employees cited long hours as the number one factor preventing them from returning to work.


On the other hand, employers don’t share this view. Employers think that financial factors such as the cost of childcare is the reason parents don’t return to work – shown by a whopping 81% of business decision makers in the survey taking that view.


What this means for you is that you could be out of tune with the real reasons that make returning to work difficult.


It also means that there is a clear opportunity for team leaders to reassess how to attract talent that is ready, willing, and able to work.


If you think that this is a one-off finding, consider research from the Australian Institute of Management Victoria and Tasmania (AIM VT). AIM VT found in a national survey that more than 50 per cent of employees who intend to remain with their current employers attribute their loyalty to the availability of flexible working arrangements in their workplace.


I’ll leave you with a final thought. It’s a question Kronos asked when they released the report: “The war for talent in Australia is causing many organisations to increase their focus on attracting and retaining people. But while many look abroad for new candidates, have we really exhausted our staffing options locally?”


This blog was first published on the First 5000 website.


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