A single mother narrowed it down to “flexible punch-in and punch-out of the office and being able to bring my daughter to the office when she is sick”. This accommodation by her professional services employer allowed her to care for her family while developing her career.
This type of flexibility and understanding, as well as trust, was mentioned frequently by the over 130 employee parents surveyed by makchic to find out the initiatives and work culture most desired by the country’s mothers and fathers.
Our resulting What Working Parents Want – 2020 report found that 66 percent of parents wanted flexibility in their working hours and location, by far the most important requirement for work-life balance and harmony.
Meanwhile, 43 percent of parents wanted in-house creche or daycare services, while 34 percent valued subsidies and benefits which made childcare affordable. Accessible childcare services has been recognised as crucial, with the 2021 Malaysian budget allocating 30 million ringgit to establish childcare centres in government buildings, and a matching grant of up to 20 million ringgit to encourage private sector employers to provide the same for their employees.
Malaysian mothers and fathers also viewed extended maternity leave, family care leave and paternity leave within the top five most important work-life initiatives.
Respect and Understanding
The majority of parents confirmed that company culture continues to play an important role in achieving work-life balance – especially trust from management in utilising arrangements such as flexible hours, and empathy from colleagues on the importance of family.
“The one thing companies nominated by respondents as family-friendly employers had in common was their recognition that aside from putting policies in place, it was important to encourage full adoption without any penalty. This was evident from their employees’ feedback that they were very happy and content,” says makchic Special Projects Coordinator, Seah Lu Sean.
Employers nominated by the parents also had work-life practices such as flexible work arrangements, transitioning support for parents, emergency childcare, in-house childcare facilities, family care leave, adoption leave and cash incentives for their staff’s children’s academic achievements. Discover these innovative companies at makchic’s inaugural Top Ten list of Family-Friendly Companies to be revealed next week.
An Overload of Responsibilities
The makchic What Working Parents Want – 2020 report also detailed the struggles of working parents, with 72 percent saying they felt overloaded with responsibilities at home and at work. A whopping 65 percent of parents also said they lacked access to childcare necessary for them to meet their career goals.
Working through this year’s pandemic also proved to be very challenging, with 21 percent of parents saying they were not getting support in managing their working from home. This was mostly due to parents feeling there were no boundaries between work life and home life (32 percent), as they were expected to deliver continuously in both areas.
“Flexible hours means working round the clock to deliver,” an employee in a consumer product and retail company described. “The workload was especially heavy because of additional analysis and reporting due to Covid.”
A third of the working parents also suffered from a lack of focus, due to the distractions of responsibilities such as housework, eldercare, and childcare. With up to 5 million children out of school due to the movement control orders, mothers and fathers continue to struggle with managing learning from home, household chores, and full-time work simultaneously.
Driving Economic Growth
The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), Malaysia’s first think-tank dedicated to promoting market-based solutions to public policy challenges, said employers in the country should note the findings of this report.
“Mothers and fathers continue to add great value to the country’s growth and development, and providing them with a better, kinder and more respectful working environment will bear even greater fruit for the nation. Thus, organisations in both the public and private sectors should take heed of this report’s recommendations and contribute to making Malaysian workplaces better for their own people, for the sake of our collective good,” it said.
In addition to the report and the Top Ten list, makchic has also produced a Toolkit for employers and companies seeking to improve the work-life balance of the mothers and fathers they employ. This toolkit is also for parents who want to know what family-friendly policies or initiatives they should be looking for in the companies they want to join, or that they can encourage within their current organisations.
Download the report below:
Disclaimer: The information presented here was collected and collated before and during the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions. Every effort was made to provide accurate and up to date information about the companies surveyed, but we acknowledge that organisations are going through unprecedented challenges and practices or policies are subject to change. We do not guarantee the completeness, timeliness or the results obtained from the use of this information. Views and opinions expressed in the text are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of any other entity or individual.