An annual study by Monster Malaysia reveals a majority of local employers still haven’t embraced flexible working policies, meaning new mothers find returning to work a challenge – with many looking for new jobs that meet their flex requirements.

• 55% of women say they have an unsupportive boss and working environment
• 58% of employees in Malaysia are unable to work from home, while 36% don’t have any option for flexible working arrangements.
• 94% of women surveyed said they will be looking for a new job in the next 12 months

A lack of flexible working arrangements and a generally unsupportive environment for working mothers is driving many women to search for new employment in Malaysia, according to findings from an annual study by recruitment giant The biggest reasons given for new mothers quitting their jobs is a lack of flexibility (75%), followed by concerns about poor childcare for their children while they are at work (60%). A further 55% said they have an unsupportive boss and work environment when it comes to balancing home and work life.

The study, which surveyed over 2,600 respondents across Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines, aimed to identify challenges women and working mothers face in the workplace. It also aims to raise attention to these issues for employers, who might want to consider more family-friendly arrangements to aid in increasing retention and lowering overall attrition of the female workforce.

In line with Mother’s Day, Monster questioned working mums on their biggest worries when returning to work after having a child. More than half of respondents (55%) said they struggle with the emotional process of leaving a new born at home. Forty-nine per cent said they only return to their jobs for financial reasons, and 47% worry about getting the right childcare in place to allow them to feel comfortable with returning to the office.

When asked about their biggest challenges, 53% of women said they struggle to balance their duties in the office with the need to keep things running at home. As female professionals, 38% said they feel they are not awarded the same career opportunities as men, and 32% believe the way they are perceived by their colleagues and boss affects their upward mobility. Just 28% of those surveyed said their workplace offers some sort of flexibility or adjusted workloads for working mothers. While only 12% of workplaces have a dedicated lactation room for pumping breast milk in private during the workday, 10% said they do have the option of a child day-care at work.

To overcome some of these hurdles, 46% said employers should instil some sort of flexible arrangements that are in line with mothers’ needs. Additionally, 20% suggested employers could consider a transition period when returning to work – for example, offering part-time hours for the first month or two back at work. “Globally, flexible working arrangements are becoming a normal part of employers’ offerings, in line with the needs of the modern workforce – but it seems like there is still some alignment that needs to happen between companies and employees in Malaysia.
Women in Malaysia clearly want to work, but they are not provided with a supportive environment or business infrastructure that allows them to both care for their families and contribute to the workplace. This is no doubt a key reason why 94% of women surveyed said they are currently searching for a new job,” said Abhijeet Mukherjee, CEO, – APAC & Gulf. “The process of having a child and being with that child 24/7, and then being expected to leave them at home in the care of someone else to return to work is a giant emotional leap for parents all over the world. The more employers can do to support women during this time, the more likely they are to retain key female talent. Supporting women in the workforce is something that extends beyond maternity benefits – it’s about creating an inclusive culture that sets women up for success with equal opportunities, which all begins with ensuring they feel happy about returning to the workforce.”

In a bid to show support, encourage mothers to re-join the workforce, and raise diversity issues with employers, Monster Malaysia is launching its annual #SheMakesItWork campaign to raise greater awareness on issues women face at work across Southeast Asia.


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