By Gemma Johnson CEO of MyFamilyClub.co.uk
Everyone from Angelina Jolie to Alan Sugar seems to have strong opinions about working mums – but new research from Microsoft has underlined the vital role we play in the workplace.
Over 500 British businesses and 2,000 mums were recently surveyed by Microsoft, and the key findings highlighted what us mums have known all along: we’re valuable assets to any business.
Nearly a third of bosses surveyed said mothers managed their time better, while 35% believed that their employees’ multi-tasking skills had improved since becoming a mother. It’s also clear that technology is playing an increasing role in enabling mums and businesses to achieve business goals by working flexibly – over a third of working mothers polled now use technology to complete office tasks at home.
Being both a working mum and an employer myself, I can certainly speak from both sides of the fence. But as an employer I can’t speak highly enough of the advantages of having a diverse team that welcomes working mums with open arms. Having a flexible attitude to working hours is beneficial for parents and businesses alike. Employees get a sensible work life balance, while businesses get flexibility when dealing with out of hours business and customer engagement.
Speaking as a parent, I know without a doubt that my ‘soft skills’ have come on leaps and bounds since having my brood. My negotiation skills, ability to remain cool under pressure and uncanny trick of keeping a poker face and my body language in check have come on leaps and bounds since having kids!
With 57% of UK bosses saying that working mothers are better team players and 72% saying working mums are vital to the UK workforce, it seems as though the working mum’s time has finally come to shine.
I could reel off a whole host of transferrable skills that mums bring to the table: time management, multi-tasking, organisational skills, negotiation tactics, bucket loads of patience, empathy when dealing with colleagues and clients – not to mention the ability to spot an accident a mile off before it actually happens! (This I hear has saved many a business from Health & Safety insurance claims.)
Even in my position as CEO, I’ve come across the attitude that working mums are more likely to require more time off and can’t socialise with colleagues after 5.30pm, as they have to get back home – but it’s a complete misconception that I hope is rapidly changing.
Today’s technology and flexible working patterns allow us working mums to choreograph our lives with the speed and agility of a cheetah catching a gazelle. With smartphones, tablets, cloud based services, instant messengers and social media platforms that embrace connectivity and real-time working, it’s never been simpler to work more efficiently or flexibly than it is today.
Back in April I was asked to speak at the Great British Business Show and my speech was all around Digital Mums, how to engage with tech-savvy women, and what the benefits are to businesses that are seeking to court mums as their customers. With 85% of mums in the UK owning a smartphone and 51% of mums saying they use technology to manage their day more than their partner does, I think the facts speak for themselves.
This highly connected and social demographic are early adopters of technology – in particular utilities, apps and devices that help them streamline their day. You can bet your bottom dollar most digital mums will probably know more than most of your team in the social media stakes – especially when it comes to how brands should (and shouldn’t) connect with her.
I certainly know that having mums on my team is of huge benefit to both my business and the clients we deal with.
Mums should be viewed as the eyes and ears for your business on the ground. She will know all about brand sentiment, whether you are operating in the online space or not. If nothing else, remember this: us mums talk!