Research released by Kronos today has revealed that Australian employers have a pre-disposition towards an ideal worker profile: young, male and unattached.
“It seems that while we struggle with skills shortages in Australia, our businesses still have a belief that accommodating the work/life balance of employees is either too costly or disruptive to creating a high-performance team. Instead, businesses have an inclination toward employing those people that fit the mould of least disruption. As a result they’re missing out on a wealth of experienced talent that has to languish in the background because employers are unwilling to meet their needs and circumstances,” comments Peter Harte, vice president, Asia-Pacific, Kronos.
These findings are really quite frustrating and show that there is still such a long way to go in the world of business when it comes to looking at women and aged workers as equally desirable contributors to building our companies into what we want them to be. We also risk creating a culture [whether on purpose or not] of a boys club within our own workplaces, something that fast becomes part of a companies identity – perception is always reality from the outside.
Driving this sentiment is the perception that lifestyle changes of employees can create disruptions to work. Almost three-quarters (72 per cent) of the employers felt that employees that reach parenthood are more likely to transition to part-time working hours, requiring the businesses to offer more flexible working arrangements. Related to this, almost 40 per cent of business decision-makers prefer employees without children, in comparison to only 18 per cent who consider employees with children desirable. Likewise, more than half (53 per cent) said the same for the mature age workers leading up to retirement, expecting them to want to work less or more flexible hours.
The study shows a tension between workplace expectations and personal lives, which is putting the interests of employers and employees at odds. When asked what qualities they prefer when looking for candidates for their business, the surveyed business decision-makers responded:
- 76% would like their workers to be willing to work extra hours
- 57% prefer their employees to have had unbroken employment records
- 73% look for ambition in their employees
“Many business decision-makers believe that a sense of dedication, commitment to work full-time, and constant ‘face-time’ in the workplace are essential to achieve effective job performance. Moreover, they assume that the best reward for a job well done is promotion to a post that’s even more demanding. Those who seem to not fit those criteria may be labeled as uninterested or unengaged,” adds Harte.