Finding happiness at work is half the job done

Finding happiness at work is half the job done

Finding happiness is half the job done

Susie O’Brien

September 29, 2007 12:00am

Herald Sun

MOTHERS working part time are the happiest employees of all, a new survey has found.

But dads aren’t so keen to swap briefcases for babies, and enjoy working full time.

About 70 per cent of Australian new mothers work part time, even though such jobs have been associated with low pay and low status.

But a British survey of 3800 couples found part-time working women were happier than those who worked full-time, and those who had no paid job at all.

This was true for mothers and those with no children.

And men, both with and without children, were happiest working full time.

Barbara Pocock, of the Centre for Work and Life, said there was no doubt many men were still attached to their identity as workers.

“Lots of men notice that when they go part time their status as ‘proper’ workers goes down,” Dr Pocock said.

She said the key to satisfying part-time work for women was having a genuine say in when and how you work.

Helen Szoke, Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission CEO, said it was no surprise part-time workers are happier.

“Provided the pay is adequate, this is probably the ideal arrangement for most parents,” Dr Szoke said.

“All people should be entitled to have their requests for part-time work seriously considered and only refused under extreme circumstances.”

Sam Holt, co-producer of the Being Dad DVDs, interviewed hundreds of dads.

Mr Holt said there were new dads who “thought they had an easier job than their wives when they walked out the door in the morning”.

“But there is definitely an increase in stay-at-home dads and a lot of dads who want more flexibility to spend time with their kids.”

Craigieburn’s Cathy Vescio-Dibella “lived and breathed” hairdressing for 15 years after opening her own salon at 18.

“I am a passionate hairdresser and I love the salon. I put my life in it for so many years,” Ms Vescio-Dibella said.

But when she became pregnant with Brooke, now 11, and Corey, 8, she was happy to drop back to two days a week.

“I take the kids to school and pick them each day,” Ms Vescio-Dibella said.

“I worked it out so I had that balance and working didn’t affect being a mum.”

But you won’t find this energetic mum sitting around waiting for school pick-up.

As her children got older, Ms Vescio-Dibella felt the need to give more back and started Body Culture, a program to boost the body image of kids in schools.

“I’ve always been a person who thrived on challenge and getting the job done, and working part time has enabled me to do a lot of different things,” she said.

Ms Vescio-Dibella and sister Michelle have been nominated for a Telstra Business Women’s Award.

“I love home and family life and being in the salon, but working with kids in schools and helping them feel good about themselves has really blown me away,” she said.

“Work smarter, not harder, and everything is achievable. If you love what you’re doing it’s going to work for you.”