Tag Archives: work

If affordable childcare is the answer for working mothers, what’s the question…?

30 Jan

How interesting it is to hear from the Department for Education that, if only childcare were more affordable and available, then more women would go back into the workplace. Its Childcare and Early Survey of Parents 2012-13 found that more than half of women (54%) currently staying at home with their kids would prefer to work. Just that they can’t afford to.

With the number of working mothers increasing from 60% in 2011 to 64% in 2012, and those working full time rising from 24% to 29%, more than half of mothers in work said having reliable childcare was “the most helpful arrangement which would help them to go out to work”.

The statistics show that nearly four in five families use some kind of childcare while during term times, whether that’s paid-for services like nurseries or childminders (64%) or grandparents, parents and friends (40%), or a mix of both (27%). And 46% of families with school-aged children used formal childcare in the holidays.

Some of the more interesting figures come from mothers already working:

  • 37% would prefer to stay at home and look after the kids if they could afford it.
  • 57% said they would like to work fewer hours and stay at home more with the kids if they could afford it.
  • 23% would like to work more if they could have affordable, convenient and reliable childcare.

From these statistics, working mothers would like to work less, and stay-at-home-mums would like to work more. All of which is dependent on flexible, independent childcare that doesn’t eat into most of the working mother’s income.

Great to have the stats, Department for Education. But what needs to change as a result of this survey is more affordability and reliability of childcare. So what’s the question…?


Bossy mothers stifle creativity, says study. But what about bossy managers…?

8 Feb

How creative do you feel when your boss is hovering over you, asking you to move something this way or that? How inspired do you feel when your boss rips your work apart? How empowered do you feel when it’s clear that it’s her way or the highway?

womaneer child creativity

Just as children should be allowed to guide their own play, so managers shouldn’t stifle their workers’ creativity (pic credit: istockphoto.com/chat9780)

Yep, I can hear that creative spark fizzling out and whimpering at the mere suggestion of being micro-managed. And yet that’s what happens to children whose mothers want to choreograph their every move – even when they’re happily playing.

Research by the University of Missouri quoted in a story on Yahoo! Lifestyle, Bossy mums do more harm than good, says that ‘helicopter mothers’ who hover over their children just bring out negative feelings in their kids.

What child wants her mother to give explicit guidelines on how to play dollies or make-believe? Obviously the child will give in to the higher ‘authority’ that the mother represents, and begin to doubt her own abilities and resolve. The negativity is eased if the mother is as warm as she is controlling, as the child perceives she’s being cared for. But just being directive on its own makes the child feel the mother is taking over.

I think all bossy, controlling managers looking to boost creativity, motivation and productivity among their staff should take note.

Emotional stress goes straight to the heart of women

26 Apr

Emotional stress has more impact on women than men, and can lead to an impact on heart health, according to research from the Penn State College of Medicine.

Stress hurts women's hearts. (istockphoto.com/jcsmily)

When women feel emotional stress – such as the pain of bereavement, or the breakdown of a marriage – blood flow to the heart remains the same, whereas it increases for men. This puts more stress on the heart, and can lead to heart pain.

The researchers said: “This puts women at greater risk of coronary pain and could offer an explanation for ‘broken heart syndrome’ – a temporary weakening of the heart muscle during emotional strain, like losing a partner. It’s almost exclusively felt by women.”

However, it’s not exclusively women who suffer from stress, as findings from a separate survey show. The Evening Standard reports figures from Nuffield Health’s Canary Wharf medical centre that nearly half (44%) of Londoners don’t take their holiday entitlement. A third said they didn’t have time for a break, or feared losing their job.

Nearly half are working unpaid overtime, with 12% working an extra eight to 20 hours in the week. Half (51%) feel their tolerance levels have lowered since the economic downturn, and a third argue more with family members.

Stressed-out workers seek relaxation in alcohol (22%), and a third turn to exercise. Perhaps the figures on heart health will be a salutary reminder to female workers to leave their desks on time, and submit their holiday forms in full.

Women are off sick through stress three times more than men

23 Dec

Women are three times more likely than men to take time off work through stress, according to analysis of Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) statistics by Legal & General.

The analysis shows that between October and December 2010:

  • 31,000 women took sick days citing stress, depression or anxiety, compared to 11,000 men.
  • 74% of stress-related absences were made by women, with only 26% of absences taken by men.

This follows the DWP research report Health and wellbeing at  work: a survey of employers that reveals that just 17% of organisations provide stress management support and advice to employees. Plus, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development 2011 Absence Management Survey showed that stress is the second biggest cause of short-term absences and one of the leading causes of long-term absences.

Diane Buckley, managing director of Legal & General Group Protection, said: “Stress is one of the leading causes of long-term absence so employers should ensure that good quality support is available in the workplace to help women before they reach this point.” She recommends cognitive behavioural therapy as a key tool to helping stressed employees back into the workplace.


%d bloggers like this: