A survey conducted by parenting website Mumsnet has revealed that the ability to work flexibly is the number one priority for parents, with a fifth of those who work flexibly or have done so in the past saying it is 'priceless' to them.
The survey of 1128 Mumsnet users conducted last December found that workplace flexibility had a direct cash value for 88 per cent of the parents questioned, with 72 per cent agreeing that they could not do their current job if they weren’t able to work flexibly.
Those who work flexibly (which can include part-time working, job shares, working from home, reduced hours during school holidays, and a variety of other non-standard working arrangements) place more importance on it than other workplace perks. In fact, over 60 per cent of those questioned rate flexibility as more important than career and salary progression.
There is good news for employers who embrace flexible working, with those who currently work flexibly having overwhelmingly positive views about their workplaces, with nearly 90 per cent agreeing that being able to work flexibly made them less inclined to think about moving to a different employer.
The results of the survey show largely positive responses with employers embracing flexibility, with 86 per cent of respondents who asked an employer for flexible working arrangements saying their employer had agreed.
There is still some headway to make in terms of employee's awareness of their right to request flexible working: 27 per cent did not know that they had the right to request flexible working after 26 weeks of employment.
It's not the first time the industry has been called out to implement better parental support; industry charity Nabs launched a Working Parents Programme in 2014 after research found 57 per cent of people in the marketing industry know someone who has left a job because of parental pressures.
The Nabs survey found a massive 85 per cent of the 500 parents surveyed felt guilty because they have to balance work and/or parental commitments, with one in 10 having actually left a job because of the additional pressures of parenthood.
Mumsnet chief executive Justine Roberts said: “It’s fabulous to see employers being rewarded for good flexible working practices with employees’ loyalty and hard work. It’s a shame, though, that parents - and it’s usually mothers - who work flexibly feel at some level that they’re willing to trade salary and career progression for work-life balance. Given the proven business benefits, women should be able to confidently negotiate for flexibility alongside deserved career rewards - not instead of them.”
Nicky Morgan, minister for women and equalities, applauded Mumsnet and their Family Friendly programme, which she said is helping more women return to work, progress to the most senior levels and boost their self-confidence.
"It is clear from the survey that the right to request flexible working is helping to transform how parents balance their career and family, and I want to make sure that more parents – both mums and dads - are aware of this right," Morgan added.
"We have come a long way in achieving gender equality in the workplace, with the lowest gender pay gap on record, a record number of women on FTSE boards and one million more women in work since 2010. But we must now accelerate that progress, so that every single woman can fulfil their potential.”
This year marks the first time shared parental leave legislation will come into effect, meaning parents with babies due on or after 5 April – or if you adopt a child from the same date – will be eligible to share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay in the first year instead of only the mother taking time out of the workplace.