Workingmums Annual Survey 2011 – Results

1845 people responded to our 2011 survey

Key demographics of our respondent base:

• 99% are women
• 32% are aged between 25 – 34 years old, 48% are between 35-44 years old, and 20% are either below 24 or above 45.
• 60% have at least 2 children; 46% have at least one child under 5, 42% hav at least one child over 5 and under 16.
• The most common individual earning bracket is under £10k (31%) with 28% earning between £10k and £20k per year in their last job. 21% earned between £20k and £30k per year and 20% earned above £30k per year.
• 33% are the main breadwinner in their family unit (up 3% on last year). 9% are the main breadwinner due to a partners redundancy or reduced hours.
• 43% make use of grandparents for their childcare needs, 35% use nurseries, whilst the rest use childminders, friends or other family. A very small percentage (2%) use a nanny or Au Pair.
• 43% pay nothing for childcare, 11% pay up to £100 per month, 13% between £100 and £250 per month. 17% between £250 and £500 per month and 16% pay over £500 per month.
• The most common household income brackets for our user base is over 50k (23%). 16% have a household income between £30k and £40k per year, 12% have a household income between £40k and £50k per year and the rest have a household income less than £30k per year.
• 48% of the respondents are currently working
• 72% are currently looking for a new job opportunity
• 55% of these are looking to start in a new job as soon as possible (within the next 2 months)

Respondents who are working

52% returned to a new job after a period off work, while 48% returned to their previous job after maternity leave.Most people seem to have taken less than a year off work after their babies were born. 33% took between 1-6 months off, and 33% took 7-12 months off.Generally women are returning to work because for financial reasons(77%). 26% were at the end of agreed maternity leave, 24% wanted to continue on a career path and 15% wanted a new challenge.

Of those working part time, 58% do their agreed hours only, but 42% do between one and eight hours extra work per week.53% returned to their employer on a part time basis, with 16% working with another kind of flexibility and 31% returning to full time employment.

How did they feel about returning to work?

Mostly respondents felt apprehensive and guilty about leaving their children, but many also felt excited about returning to work.

All agree that flexibility is really important, most rating all the flexibility choices as very important to them (apart from compressed hours) – but flexi hours came out as the most important (75% rating very important), even surpassing part time hours which 66% rated as very important.69% of those parents who are working say they consider their job to be either flexible, very flexible or extremely flexible, but 57% are earning less than they were before they had children (based on a full time wage). Most found that their employer was supportive upon their return to work (78%).Of those who requested flexible or part time working upon their return to work, most felt that they got what they requested, or reached a good compromise (58%).

67% thought that they maintained about the right level of contact with their employer during their maternity leave. 37% had regular contact with members of their team/company, 21% maintained access to work emails, and 32% attended (or were invited to) social functions.

Respondents who are not working

Most of our respondents who are not working were last in paid employment in the last 12 months (51%). 36% left work to have children and be a stay at home mum/dad, 25% were made redundant, 5% left because their request for flexible working was denied, 9% wanted a change and 11% found juggling it all too hard. 51% say that childcare costs are preventing them from returning to work.

45% would like to see
a staggered return
to work after maternity leave

Of those thinking of returning to their current job, the following were deemed helpful:

  • Access to work emails during maternity leave – 26%
  • Regular meetings leading up to the return to work – 27%
  • Attending work social events – 27%
  • Staggered return to work – 45%
  • Employer acceptance of flexible work hours upon return – 76%

Of those currently on maternity leave, 43% have not discussed flexible working hours yet, 11% are already agreed, 11% are negotiating and 23% have had their request refused. 12% don’t want flexible working.

The greatest barrier so far to returning to work is the lack of appropriate flexible jobs (58%), closely followed by lack of available flexible jobs (57%). Childcare costs are a barrier for 37%, 26% are guilty about leaving the child(ren) and 24% want to be a stay at home mum. Lack of confidence does not seem to be an issue.

How do they feel about returning to work? Well guilt and worry about travel and logistics seem like the biggest issues (24% and 25% respectively). 55% would accept a job which paid less than they had earned before in return for flexible working conditions.

Why do mums go back to work?

As reflected in other questions, the overriding reason mums will be returning to work is that they need the money (95%). However, emotional factors seem to play a part – 74% want to work to boost their self esteem, 66% want adult company and 57% want to get out of the house. Career factors also plays a part – 52% want to continue on their set career path, and 80% enjoy their job.

Working full time

79% say that homeworking for some of the time would encourage them to work full time.

Other factors which would encourage them include:

  • Flexible working hours – 72%
  • Finding a job close to home – 67%
  • Job satisfaction – 58%
  • Working term time only – 57%
  • Understanding employer – 49%
  • Cheaper childcare – 45%
  • Compressed hours – 46%

What factors make a family friendly company?

We asked what factors our users thought made a ‘family friendly company’. Offering flexible hours for full time jobs was rated highest at 87%, followed by allowing regular work at home (83%), offering part time jobs (78%), offering more flexibility during school holidays (76%) and allowing holiday days to be taken at short notice to deal with sick children etc (75%). Less important were extended maternity pay periods, networking and support groups, parenting courses and childcare help (although at 62% this still rated fairly high compared to the other items).

Retraining, Volunteering and starting a business

74% of our audience are interested in retraining, 79% would be more likely to retrain if the courses were flexible. 58% have retrained within the last 3 years. The majority associate helping a worthwhile cause with a voluntary role, although many also see the personal benefits too (gaining skills – 72%, Job experience – 65%, boosting confidence – 50%). 64% of our audience would consider taking on a volunteering role. 69% have considered setting up their own business or franchise (63% last year).

Being a working mum

We asked the respondents what they saw as the positives of being a working mum. Financial independence rated highest (76%), followed by being a good role model for their children (75%), intellectual stimulation – 67%, providing for the family – 66%, having a balance between work and family life – 63% and feeling happier – 54%.



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