Women with flexible work arrangements are more productive: Study

A new report backs what many women working flexibly and part time already know: that they waste less time at work than their full-time colleagues – just 11.1% compared to the 14.5% of work hours wasted by the general population.

And getting more out of these productive women could save Australia and New Zealand at least $1.4 billion in wasted wages, according to the EY and Chief Executive Women report released this week.

Based on range of different studies including figures obtained from the November 2012 EY Productivity Pulse and the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the report identifies what low female workforce participation is costing the economy and what can be done to help.

It finds that with 42.2% of women in the workforce working part time compared to just 13.5% of men, a significant productivity boost is being achieved with those flexible workers found to be wasting less time than their full time counterparts.

But too few organisations are recognising this, according to the report authors.

“Over the last decade, while there have been some gains in female workforce participation rates, a lot more needs to be done to ensure the waste doesn’t continue,” EY advisory partner Amy Poynton said in a statement with the report.

“When you consider that female workforce participation has only increased by 4% over the past decade to 65%, while male participation is currently at 79%, and you look at that in the context of the return of investment in educating women and the potential shortfall of retirement savings for women, it’s quite an alarming picture.”

The report also identifies a lack of sufficient superannuation for women – finding 38% of women have no superannuation at all – and puts an $8 billion figure on the investment in education that’s being wasted by women not transitioning to full time employment.

It also finds that women are missing out on our highest paying growth industries, given they’re qualifying for careers in health, social services and education which are lower paid but offer better flexible work options.

The six-monthly EY Pulse survey measures more than 2100 Australian workers on their productivity and the value of work they do across all industry sectors.

This article first appeared on Women’s Agenda.


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