A year on from the implementation of Shared Parental Leave, a new report highlights best practice in flexible working and family friendly working and shows how the most progressive organisations achieve the best results for both employee and employer.
Workingmums.co.uk’s Best Practice Report 2016 underlines how good family friendly working is not just about having the right policies in place, but about creating the right culture.
The report, which is based on detailed case studies of the winners of the 2015 Workingmums.co.uk Top Employer Awards, identifies what makes a difference in family friendly working. The key issues are:
- Engagement with staff. Employers who know what their employees want and include them in any process of change will have greater success
- A proactive, long-term approach. Many employers adopt a short term view. This can result, for instance, in an ad hoc approach to flexible working, leading to potential problems later down the line. The most successful organisations take a step back and look at changing trends and demographics, such as attitudes to work life balance among younger workers, the rising pension age and an increasingly flexible, global marketplace
- Good leadership - senior managers need to not only recognise why these issues are important for their business, but take ownership of them, for instance, by attending dedicated events
- Strong role models - it’s not enough to have policies on smart working; the best employers realise they have to communicate why and how it works on an individual, everyday basis
- Line manager training - just as important as focusing on leadership and engaging people from the grassroots up is the need for managers to be given support in how to manage smart working teams or how to support employees with caring responsibilities
- Support for remote working employees in recognition of the challenges they may face, such as isolation
- Promoting family friendly working as something that is not only offered to, but encouraged for both male and female employees.
Many of the case studies of both organisations and individuals who work there highlight how creating a supportive culture is linked to better overall performance. The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service [Cafcass] won the Overall Top Employer Award for the way it had transformed its work culture and management structure through engagement with staff and a well thought-through use of technology. The case study shows how technology is used to connect remote workers, increase efficiency and improve interaction with the children they work with.
In the year Shared Parental Leave was introduced, another case study is of the London School of Economics and Political Science which won the Best for Dads Award. The award recognised the way LSE supports the whole family unit, including through SPL on full pay for 16 weeks and an innovative research leave policy which allows any academic who has been absent for 18 weeks or more, a teaching-free term on full pay to catch up on research. This recognises that having a break can have an impact on career progression.
The Report recognises smaller employers too. A case study of Cariad Marketing highlights its commitment to flexible working, training and development and community engagement; digital marketing company iCrossing talks about its range of policies supporting families, from iParent - a mentoring scheme for new parents - to Together Time, additional paid leave for things like settling children at school or visiting a sick relative in hospital.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch speaks about its pioneering Returning Talent programme for those who have taken a career break; Barclays highlights its work on Talent Attraction, in particular its work on promoting job shares in all roles; and Centrica speaks about its innovative carer’s leave policy which provides up to one month of matched leave to staff. Working Mums Champion Nathalie Clarke of SThree highlights her work in promoting career progression for women in the recruitment industry.
The 2016 Top Employer Awards have just launched and Workingmums.co.uk’s is seeking entries from innovative employers. The Awards aim to spread best practice and provide ideas for other organisations wishing to see how they can best support their employees.
Gillian Nissim, founder of Workingmums.co.uk, said: “We are delighted to launch our 2016 Best Practice Report and our Top Employer Awards. The best organisations offer policies that take account of the various pinchpoints in people’s lives embedded in a work culture that understands that staff work best when they feel that there is some understanding of the challenges they may face when they are not at work.”