One in eight respondents from Hong Kong and around the world believe that flexible working is key to attracting and retaining women workers, says a study by Regus.
The survey of more than 44,000 senior business people across more than 100 countries, including 365 respondents from Hong Kong, found 83% see flexible working hours as key to getting mothers back on the job market.
Hong Kong will certainly need a boost in the workforce by welcoming mothers back to the workplace. The government predicts the workforce will start shrinking in three years, from 3.71 million workers in 2018 to a projected 3.52 million in 2031.
The study also said 32% of businesses in Hong Kong are planning to hire more returning mothers in 2015, up from 26% from the year before. This trend was evident in Mainland China (51%) and Taiwan (42%) as well.
This stemmed from an appreciation of the skills and experience mothers bring to the workplace, as stated by close to half of respondents across Hong Kong, China and Taiwan (55%, 47% and 40% respectively).
However, despite the willingness of employers in hiring mothers, taking care of family remains one of the main reasons women are not able to take up a job.
This is especially the case in Hong Kong, where a survey from the Census and Statistics Department last month revealed 76% of housewives in Hong Kong had been employed before but 83% indicated they will definitely not or are unlikely to take up a job again because they have to take care of family.
Michael Ormiston, country manager at Regus Hong Kong said: “There is a vast amount of untapped potential among skilled and experienced mothers who are unable to work due to family commitments.”
“Flexible working hours enable companies to tap into this workforce and offer returning mothers a path back into the workforce.”
Ormiston cited reports suggesting that if the number women in the workforce reached the same as that of men, national GDP growth could be up to 10% higher.
“Add to that the value placed on returning mothers by businesses and it is evident that businesses need to reassess their use of flexible working to attract top female talent,” he said.