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Guest Blog: Why employing staff to #workschoolhours will ultimately improve your profit and your people

Guest Blog by Dr. Ellen Joan Nelson

Why employing staff during school hours will improve staff retention, productivity, innovation, inclusion and diversity, staff well-being and ultimately, profits.

Following my PhD research, which focused on the experiences of women in the workplace, I conducted an unintentional, further, research project focusing on the experiences of working parents, primarily mums. The stories from these parents fall into two broad categories, with a
relatively even split between the two. Parents either:

  1. return to work full-time and resent the fact that they barely see their children during waking hours in the week, as well as the associated financial cost of childcare.
  2. Or they negotiate some kind of part-time arrangement, where they work less hours, to spend more time with their children. This comes with a corresponding reduction in their pay.

However, their workload or outputs are not reduced.

What is the cause of these two disappointing outcomes? I believe it is the mismatch between the work schedule and the school schedule. It seems crazy that we live in a modern-day society where the adults and the children have different schedules!

So I thought, why not try and align the two schedules, by reducing the workday for all staff (without reducing salaries), and making more accommodations over the school holiday periods? #workschoolhours.

Now, this is where things get really exciting. This is not just a nice ‘pie in the sky’ idea, aimed at making things better for staff (parents and non-parents), as well as wider society – which it would do.

There is actually a business case to do it, and organisations love a good business case!

There is plenty of research to support that outputs can be achieved in less than 40 hours. For example, the 4-day-work-week movement is already demonstrating this increase in productivity. The most productive members in the workforce are often part-time workers, as they are already completing their workload in less time. Further, if the stress regarding the misalignment of work and school could be taken away from working parents, just imagine how much happier they would be at work, how much more innovative and creative they would be, how much better their focus and concentration would be?

We know that staff well-being is important, not just because we care about our staff (which we should), but because it also impacts organisational performance. Happier staff generate more profits. Imagine the competitive advantage you could achieve, by being able to
attract and retain the most talented staff, if your organisation operated within school hours?

There are significant benefits to structuring roles around school hours, and employing highly talented working parents. To listen to the full #workschoolhours talk, click here: https://www.ellenjoannelson.com/workschoolhours/

Ellen Joan Nelson, PhD, MBA (exec), BA
You can contact and learn more about Ellen at ellenjoannelson.com and ellen@ellenjoannelson.com


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Personal Spot-light Story: A rural career, Covid-19 and a move into the trades

The last two years of the pandemic, have presented multiple new opportunities for both candidates and industry – women in particular have reconsidered careers out of necessity looking a little outside the traditional box of female careers.

I stumbled across Emily (online) from NZ Custom Trees, who has recently moved into a new job working in the trades for their family’s franchised NZ Building Shed Company. Hers is an interesting story, one about persistence, hard work, an open mind and a sense of ‘why not’?!

I caught up (virtually) with Emily, to ask about her career story so far, and what motivated a move into her current role. I hope it sparks something in you to consider a job in the trades and construction.

Tell us briefly what you have been doing most of your career?
I live in Canterbury on a lifestyle block with my husband and two children aged 1 & 2. We run a few sheep, some cattle and a horse.

I grew up on a Sheep and Beef farm in North Canterbury as a 6th Generation farmer and my life plan was to be a sheep and beef farmer so I went on to study a Bachelor of Agriculture at Lincoln University after which I did some shepherding and general farm hand work on sheep and beef farms. I quickly realized the progression in the Dairy farming industry so decided to change careers and excelled within the dairy farming industry quickly, resulting in managing a dairy unit and being responsible for the team of staff, all aspects of animal health and nutrition in only a few short years.

My next step was to purchase my own herd of cattle, however due to needing an artificial hip I had to step back from the physical demands of farming and looked for an opportunity within the Agricultural industry where I could also be my own boss. I found this as a real estate salesperson working for Farmlands Real Estate in North Canterbury, initially as a PA while I completed training and then as one of the salespeople. Working as a rural salesperson allowed a lot of flexibility to enable me to stay in the Agricultural scene and allowed opportunity to get involved with organisations such as young farmers while also discovering other passions outside of agriculture like business, property investing and photography.

I worked for Farmlands Real Estate for three years until I started a family and took on a little bit of truck and bus driving work to cover the bills at the same time as setting up my own company so I would be able to stay busy when I was at home with the children.

The company is NZ Custom Trees Ltd in which I make and sell artificial life-sized trees for commercial businesses, I operate my business part time from home and my husband and I also run a shed building company which we have recently franchised NZ wide.

You’ve just jumped into a tradie job, what motivated the side-step into this particular industry?
Due to Covid-19 and lockdown issues a lot of the sales from my Artificial tree company stopped and all events we had planned for the remainder of the year were cancelled virtually overnight , we have also just finished franchising our shed Building company NZ wide, so my workload went from an absolute struggle to twiddling my thumbs.

This prompted me to look for employment. I was applying mainly for Executive assistant type roles, or other similar office based positions. All roles I was applying for were at or below my skill set so I thought I would pick up a job almost instantly…. boy was I wrong! I applied for jobs for about a month and most came back as “you haven’t progressed to interview stage” meanwhile we were interviewing for another builder in our shed building company for a 6-month fixed term position but we were let down continuously by our applicants.

I made the joke to my husband that I was looking for a job, he was looking for a worker… maybe I should go building (lol) but he thought it was a good idea and maybe I should give it a go.

So I gave it a go and although very sore after the first day I really enjoyed it!

What are you currently loving about the work you do?
I love the guys I am working with, it is a really great team and a positive nurturing work environment. I definitely wouldn’t be able to work with my husband so its nice that he is in the office currently.

I am working Monday to Thursday so this allows me flexibility to keep my company operating and have gone back to outsourcing my production while I am busy on the construction site.

I enjoy getting up before the sunrise and I love the feeling of coming home exhausted after a long hard days work. The hours are long; I generally leave home before 6am and am back home after 6pm which does make the home-work balance a little difficult but the crock pot is now my new best friend.

How have you been welcomed or inducted into this new industry in terms of those you work with?
The team are really great, they explain things well and are supportive when I make silly errors. They are very thorough with the training and I have learned new skills every day.

I am quite unfit, so was in a lot of pain carrying the heavy tool belt around and lifting large rafters for the first few days. However, my body is building up strength to it now. I am also being trained in moving the heavy boards that are easier on the body.

What message do you have for other women who might be considering a move into the trades and construction?
I definitely recommend other women should consider getting into the trades, as it is a really great industry which is currently booming. There are a lot of different types of roles within the industry as well. If you are keen to see if construction is for you I would recommend contacting a local construction company and see if you can be an apprentice for a day and see if it’s something you would enjoy before you invest in the tools. Fitness and strength is another key part, so building some strength beforehand may help with your job application as well as make those first few weeks a little easier on your body.


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7 simple tips on putting purpose back into your week

Good News Monday

7 Hot Tips to Get Through Each Day of Your Week


Monday | Mane
Make your bed

Experts suggest that the small effort of making your bed each day (or at least the start of the week) can greatly improve your productivity for the rest of the day by setting the right intention.

BONUS POINTS: When you, your partner or your kids do it TOGETHER!

Tuesday | Turei
Tick off one key job

By ticking off at least one key job from your to-do list, helps you to progress family, life or career plans and enables you to regain a sense of control. Putting pen to paper, although odd in the digital age, is a powerful thing…do this regularly and see how your progress moves.

BONUS POINTS: If you tell your partner, friend, boss or colleague – accountability is imperative in reaching your goals!

Wednesday | Wenerei
Wake up early

Have you heard about the 5am Club? Some people suggest doing this everyday…I’m not! But at least starting with one-day a week (and why not Hump day?) to rise early, walk, run, stretch, meditate and make time for YOU has got to be good. Let’s start this week!

BONUS POINTS: If you manage to get to bed before 9pm on Tuesday night! Because damn you Netflix and wanting time to yourself when the kids are in bed or just because!

Thursday | Taite
Think about your thoughts

You could also call this ‘mindfulness’. Ask yourself what thoughts commonly take up your waking (or trying to sleep) mind? What plays through your head a lot? What’s that incessant ‘itch’ you can’t quite scratch? Dig deep. Stop and think about those thoughts and discover what they’re trying to tell you.

BONUS POINTS: If you open up and share it with a loved one or someone you trust.

Friday | Paraire
Feed the fun!

Just because we’re self-respecting adults, does not exclude us from fun, OR play for that matter. Will the child from within and remember what you love and that which feels fun for you. For me, it’s dancing in the kitchen, dancing with my kids after watching a movie and hearing the preceding words from my 6-yr old son saying “pick me up” because he loves dancing in my arms and I’m a sucker!

BONUS POINTS: If it gets your heart rate going!

Saturday | Rahoroi
Soothe your soul

You’ve made it through the week and now it’s time to make time for YOU! Catch up for coffee with a friend, take a bath, book a massage, get your ‘hair did’, go out for a date with your partner or simply wiggle your bare feet and toes into some fresh green earthy grass – it’s an actual thing…called grounding and I don’t think we do it enough.

BONUS POINTS: If you can keep it under $50…because we’re worth it, but also because we’re adults with bills! ha ha

Sunday | Ratapu
Start family stand-up meetings

Your family (whatever that looks like for you) is your greatest team, your greatest asset and it really does hold true that Together Everyone Achieves More. Any time that suits on a Sunday, start having stand up meetings to schedule the week ahead. Plan with your team, who needs to do what, set priorities, must-dos and nice to-dos, either way, get ALL involved. It’s not your job to take that mental and physical load each week. Ask for what you need and empower others!

BONUS POINTS: If you can involve the kids with around 50% of the responsibility. As parents, we are their biggest teachers and role models, so start them early.

Action Exercise

Implement these actions into each day of your week this week
and see what changes for you. We can do this together!

Te Whare Tapa Whā

Supporting your spiritual, mental, physical
and family Well-being

Till next time…

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Need a slick CV? Have us design one for you!

Did you know RecruitMum can design a CV for you?

Your CV is the very first judgement call (and I’m afraid it is a judgement) that an employer, recruiter, or hiring manager will make on you and your career experience. Unlike a more friendly, human, and face-to-face impression we get to make with someone we meet in person, our CV has the (most) challenging job of illustrating and communicating all that we are and have done in our careers and lives thus far! No pressure, right? So, how’s yours looking these days?

In designing and creating a top CV, you need to consider the following:

  • Design & Format (1-3 pages max, block your content, use a simple font)
  • Content & Structure (capture last 10 yrs, key roles only, contact info, use simple language)
  • Industry Speak (try to appeal to the industry you’re applying to)
  • Link sharing & Contact information (got a LinkedIn profile – we can help with this also!)

…and that’s just scratching the surface. Last month in our Wahine into Work career workshops, we dived into CV creation and shared what it takes to produce a top CV in today’s job market.

Check out the image below which was one of the many slides we shared on breaking down and illustrating all the key, must-have elements in a top CV. You’ll note, we have also included two ‘out-of-the-box jobs under the Work Experience heading… that is 1) Active Job Seeker and 2) Parental Leave – Super Mum Extraordinaire! These examples may not always work in practice (your gut will tell you if it’s right for the role). However, the point of the exercise was to get Mothers thinking about the transferable and valuable skills they gain from Motherhood and how these can be championed (and not apologised for) on your CV. Families are a natural part of life and work needs to work around that!

If you’re interested in having us design a slick CV for you, then get in contact with clare@recruitmum.co.nz. Depending on where your existing CV is at, design fees can start from as little as $150 + gst.

Till next time…

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Stronger, Together – Mum Stories Amplified

Want to be a part of influencing employers around why we need more part-time, flexible working roles that appeal to parents and Mums?

As some of you know, since July 2019 I’ve been operating RecruitMum as the social enterprise employment service connecting Mums to part-time, flexible work. Now, a lot of the important work I do, (what I call the ‘Heart work’) is around building the case and sharing the story of the difficulties Mums face in finding suitable work, that fits in with their busy Mum lives.

However, in order to tell that story, I need stories! Real-life stories and shared experiences of how you’ve found navigating back into work between having children. The highs, the lows, the best stories, the worst stories…all in aid, to grow employer understanding around what it’s really like for a HUGE proportion of the community to find work that works, for them and what’s more, work they love!

So, to share these stories, I need the beautiful faces of Mothers accompanied with answers to five questions. One face, five answers – is what I need to create a series of stories and social media posts that uniquely and aspirationally get this message across.

This is what I’d love to know:

  1. What was your career like before having kids? (Try to explain what job you did, what an average week looked like, how long you worked, and any qualifications you gained to get there in the first place)
  2. Describe your favourite job/employer to date. (Try to explain what made them your favourite, how did they make you feel to deem them your favourite?)
  3. What single greatest thing have you learned about your journey since becoming a parent? (In your answer explain in terms of transferable skills to the workplace, how has it made you a stronger person, better employee?)
  4. Share a not so ideal experience you’ve had in managing your career, since having kids? (This could be anything in terms of a poorly asked question in an interview, an unfair dismissal, a challenging boss, or an inflexible work culture. Use the STAR method to help you answer – Situation Task Action Result)
  5. If you had the full attention of all the employers in one room, what single message or call to action would you present to them? (Think about what you’d love to change around the employment space for Mums, think about what an ideal world looks like for Mums where there are no barriers to employment or finding work you love and deserve).

If you’d like to be a part of championing change and creating better employment opportunities for Mums (the power is in each of us) then please share your story with me at clare@recruitmum.co.nz with your image (high-quality jpeg or png file please) and answers to the above questions.

Your story will then be shared on either RecruitMum’s Facebook page (about 600 + followers), my LinkedIn account (500+ connections – you’ll get in front of employers!), and/or the RecruitMum Instagram account (100 + followers).

I’m told if you want to go fast, go alone…but if you want to go far, bring others with you.
We’re Stronger Together. Let’s go together. 

Thanks for reading.