Australia’s ideal worker: Male, childless, single | Women's Agenda

Australia’s ideal worker: Male, childless, single

Women are up against significant bias regarding what makes an ‘ideal worker’ when applying for new positions , with just 19% of employers preferring female workers compared to 38% who prefer male employees according to new research.

And throw some kids in the mix and it gets even harder, with the research finding 40% of employers also prefer workers who do not have children compared to just 18% who consider employees with children desirable.

According to the May 2013 survey of 500 Australian business decision-makers and 2,000 employees by workplace management consultancy Kronos, employers really do have a stereotype regarding the kind of employees they like to take on: male, childless and unattached.

The reason? Because being male and ‘perpetually available’ with no competing priorities is seen as desirable and less likely to request flexible working arrangements, according to the research.

However, businesses may be the ultimate losers with such stereotypes regarding ‘ideal workers’. According to research released last week by EY and Chief Executive Women, part time female employees actually waste less time compared to everyone else: 11.1% of hours wasted compared to 14.5% of the general working population. The report found that engaging more part time female employees could help Australian and New Zealand businesses save at least $1.4 billion in wasted wages.

As Kronos’ Peter Harte noted with his research, demographic shifts show employers cannot afford to ignore women and mature-age workers. He said that Australian businesses still view accommodating the work/life balance requirements of employees as a hassle.

This could be because employers believe lifestyle changes can create workplace disruptions, with 72% of employees saying that employees reaching parenthood are more likely to transition to part time work, meaning the business has to offer more flexible working arrangements.

“Businesses have an inclination toward employing those people that fit the mould of least disruption,” said Harte with the release of the research. “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.’

Other results from the Kronos study find:

  • 76% of employers prefer their workers to be willing to work extra hours
  • 57% prefer employees to have unbroken employment records
  • 73% look for ambition in their employees

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