Ever been struck by a great idea, but kept it quiet, just in case it sounds more wacko than wonder-child? After 10 years around the traps at Ogilvy PR and 14 in the PR business, I’ll share a secret: wonder-child is overrated.
Author: Carla Vanner
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Once upon a time, in a land of misogyny not that far away, pregnant employees weren't offered job training or opportunities, bound to disappear into a life of domesticity. The truth is, if your best employees were brilliant before pregnancy, chances are they will be even more brilliant afterwards... and here's why.
Employees that are personally invested in the success of your business are a really valuable asset. But often workaholic-style people become a little too close to the action, get too attached to success and failure and end up burning out in an emotional heap.
Not so mothers returning to work. They've dealt with far worse things than an irate customer or client, and a tantrum thrown in aisle three during shopping peak hour far outweighs anything an adult can put on between 9 and 5. Parenthood brings with it a healthy dose of perspective - it's the metaphorical chill pill the best workers all need to pop.
Work is play - most of the time
When work is providing a rare window of adult-only company, it's something parents of young kids actually look forward to... and get this... you'll PAY them for the work they're doing (as opposed to the unpaid labour of love back home).
Having a baby is multi-tasking boot camp. Try feeding a baby, answering the phone, eating a yogurt and reciting Dr Seuss all at the same time. To quote the inimitable Doctor, 'Oh the places you'll go!'
Billability overdrive... get in, get out, go home
Face time? Not likely. Paid pro-rata with enough meaningful work to keep them busy, part time mums get in, do the job and go home. They're efficient and motivated not to stick around to bill you for down time. Add to that the magic of mobile technology and away doesn't necessarily mean out of reach.
If your rising star did a great job but lacked a bit of maturity... there's nothing like parenthood to provide life's richest education. Just like a gap year for school leavers hitting Europe. Except they're reading 'Baby Love' not 'Lonely Planet'.
Part time Mums paid on a salaried pro-rata basis present a win-win situation for your business. They're enthusiastic, skilled and available for pockets of meaningful work. Your business can tap into a large, experienced workforce. In return, your part-timers can still earn an income, keep a hand in their respective careers, enjoy the mental stimulation and be recognised for doing a great job that (usually) doesn't involve cleaning up any uncontrolled bodily functions. Unless of course, that's part of the job description.
Before the nay-sayers pipe up with their tales of absent mums calling up with fevers in young offspring and childcare centres going into receivership... before you hire them, you have to respect the fact you're offering them a second job, not a first. But if you're happy to be their mistress, they'll stick with you like a wife.
Carla Vanner is the mother of two young daughters. She is also a part-time Account Director at Howorth, a public relations firm specialising in business and technology communication and winners of the ADNews PR Agency Best Employer Award 2008.