Muscat: Most employers questioned about work-life balance in Oman agreed that workplace nurseries were “a good idea,” according to a report.
Get your essential daily briefing delivered direct to your email inbox with our e-newsletter
The report also found that most service sector firms in Oman are in favour of setting up nurseries for employees, which would allow parents to bring pre-school age children to work.
Dr Rakesh and Dr Shweta Belwal interviewed 28 companies across private and government sectors for their study, called “Work-Life Balance, Family Friendly Policies, and Quality of Work Life Issues: Studying Employers’ Perspectives of Working Women in Oman.”
Nine service firms, seven manufacturing firms, and two firms involved in extraction took part.
The research paper states: “On-site child care or other provisions were considered a good idea by most of the employers. A few production-oriented organisations expressed their worries that they could not provide it on-site, while some believed that culturally it will not suit local conditions.”
“However, two major concerns are; firstly, how prepared organisations are to accommodate these women workers, and secondly, how effective companies will be in retaining women’s contribution to their economic activities.”
“To our understanding, retaining unmarried women in the national workforce is not a problem. Difficulties occur once women are married, have children and start juggling their time between home and work.”
“As women everywhere juggle their time between work and family life, there is a growing body of research concerning work, family conflict, work–life issues.
In an interview, Dr Rakesh said, “Keeping in view the projections that women are going to outnumber males in the future workforce of Oman, there is a need to give some specific and urgent attention to family-friendly policies.”
Private companies were particularly interested in the possibility of providing on-site nurseries for their children.
“Good idea,” remarked one employer, “If there are reasonable numbers of women with children. Conceptually good, but our company is far away.”
“It’s good. Even the employees are ready to pay for the baby-sitter,” said another.
Most of these responses came from the service industry companies. Those heading factories or other extraction-based firms were concerned about the safety and comfort of said children.
“You can’t have it here because the factory environment is not safe for children. We don’t have it. I think in big companies it might be there.”
Government agencies gave mixed responses. Some believed that a Gulf Cooperation Council culture would not allow such efforts to succeed, while others were particularly enthusiastic.
Some companies in Oman have already taken steps that could lead to the eventual application of On-Site Nurseries. Nurseries are often linked with On-Site wellness programmes, which have been applied for employees in Bank Muscat’s main branch with a gym, library and natural juice shop.
Dr Basheer A. from Badr Al Samaa Hospital said these benefits are important.
“Of course, both for the mother and the child, especially when the mother comes in with stress, she says she can’t focus on work and is always thinking. Many mothers put the child in day care.”