Are we mistaking the forest for the trees? | JobsforMumsmalta

Jobs for Mums August 05, 2018

We’re so fixated on Malta’s free child-care initiative, we’re practically stuck.    

Last year it was reported that there are 7,252 working parents benefiting from the free child-care scheme, whilst another 109 parents are currently in education. Reports have also shown the increase in the number of women in the workplace -from 45.8% in 2013 to 53% in the first quarter of 2017.

While these results are encouraging there is also a downside, a downside which ironically, no one is shining a light on. While we continue to celebrate the success of this initiative, we seem to be giving the corporate world the impression that there is nothing else that they should be doing to encourage more women to get back into the working world, we’re indirectly telling that them the government has saved the day so they don’t have to consider implementing other family friendly measures within their corporate culture.

The problem child-care centres is ‘temporarily’ fixing.

While the islands keep battling in the war of talent, so many incredibly skilled and experienced women were at home and a great chunk of them, especially the ones who dedicated more than half their life to the academic world having battled their way ferociously to climb the career ladder slowly yet surely, found themselves saying goodbye to a career they loved. The government’s child-care initiative was welcomed because it encouraged women to get back in the working world - it gave career high fliers a golden ticket. Same goes for the very talented mums who while not being career driven, are also very talented, yet didn’t have a passion or longing jump back on the career train, these females didn’t really understand their value, potential or how crucial their participation was and while they figured this was their next chapter, their industry skills and decades of experience were flushed away in literally a snap.  The child-care initiative was a blessing in disguise for these women too, because it gave them the encouragement to put their working pants back on.

Reality Check. Here’s where we’re at.

The free child-care initiative should be given a round of applause, however let’s not get stuck here. The real issue we should be discussing is why we aren’t doing more to promote the true value of flexible working. While the world refers to flexible working as a right and is discussing how extending and encouraging flexible working will give all employees the opportunity to contribute more widely to society, and will also help employers to recruit, motivate and retain their workforces, here in Malta.
  • We seem to have created the cultural belief that flexible working should only of benefit women, as they are the ones who continue to deliver the majority of the caring role.
  • The majority of local businesses aren’t recognising the benefits of flexible working and are not considering flexible working when they advertise jobs.
  • Working women are concerned that working flexibly will harm their prospects in terms of career progression and standing within an organisation.
  • The majority of companies and/or employees don’t even know the various types of options flexible working actually includes.

Why flexible working is important

For businesses

For businesses, holding onto experienced and skilled staff is important in maintaining quality and containing costs. Offering flexible working can help retain staff and widen the talent pool, so employers are able to recruit people with more skills; it can also increase commitment and loyalty of staff members. This can in turn translate into improved productivity and by extension improved profitability and economic growth.

For employees

For employees, flexible working allows them to better balance their work life with their family responsibilities or other commitments. In today’s society, both men and women want to find a balance between work, family and caring responsibilities.

Malta, it’s time to take the plunge.

Here at this is what we hope.

  • We hope to encourage the government and stakeholders to work collaboratively with representatives from the private sector who understand the benefits and barriers of flexible working.
  • We hope to motivate companies big and small, to explore flexible working options and discuss different types of working patterns with their star employees.
  • We hope to inspire employees to take a bold step and recommend flexible working pilot projects within their organisation.

We spend almost 100,000 hours of our life at work – that’s the equivalent of eleven and a half years. Having the ability to manage the time we spend at work so that it fits into our life instead of taking over our life can make a huge difference to our wellbeing and contribution to society and the economy.

Message from our Founder

Making your company a more attractive place to work makes it harder for people to leave, improving morale, retention rates as well as productivity. With the right technology to hand and the right motivation, flexible working is the real blessing we should be celebrating. This certainly does not take away the merits of the free child-care initiative in actual fact it compliment it and shows that our islands continue to become a true hub of talent as well as an innovator of family friendly measures in the workplace. - Katja Dingli Bennetti