Off-payroll legislation that took effect in the private sector in April has had a...read more
The on site nursery is a huge benefit to parents at Next’s HQ. But the family friendly culture runs right through the firm
Retailer Next provide an on-site nursery for staff at their Leicester HQ. That’s a very obvious and tangible benefit for parents. But what it brings is a raft of benefits you can’t see, or put a price on.
For working dad Kalpesh Tanna, a development project manager for Next, it meant that when his daughter attended the nursery he no longer had to worry about late fees, he knew she was close by when he was at work, it gave them an added connection and it took away some of the fears all parents have at the back of their mind when their child is childcare during the day.
He explained, “One day I got the call to say she’d had a knock on the head and she was a bit unsettled. I explained to my manager and he told me to go check she’s alright. There was no feeling that I had to ask permission, he was the one encouraging me to drop everything and check on her.
“And there was no nervous drive to the nursery wondering if she was OK and whether she was getting fraught waiting for me to arrive. Instead I had a five minute walk across the car park to the nursery.
“I could see she was fine. When I got back to my desk I was able to focus on my work without worrying about her.”
The nursery is rated outstanding by Ofsted. And it’s easy to see why. For example, one Christmas Santa dropped by, along with some reindeer in the car park. Kalpesh was able to take five minutes out of his day to get a photo with daughter Shyla and the reindeer. “I’d never get that opportunity anywhere else,” he smiled.
For working dads who know that dash to get to nursery before late fees kick in at 6pm the fact the Next nursery doesn’t charge late fees is a huge win. “The nursery staff work for Next, you work for Next, we’re all in it together. So if I have to stay a bit late working on something business critical they’d stay open until I was able to collect my daughter.”
All very different from Kalpesh’s experience with son Bayln when he had to deal with a lengthy and slow commute and nursery would always call his wife first if there was an issue.
Crucially the Next nursery is just part of a wider family friendly culture. For example when Kalpesh discovered a flat tyre one evening he had to take Shyla into the office while he got it sorted. “Nobody batted an eyelid, no-one looked up when I walked through with my daughter. I wasn’t made to feel bad or awkward.
“It all feels like one big family at Next.”
And that meant working dads at the firm were looked after when the pandemic hit last year. “It was all hands on deck when lockdown first came into force but once the dust had settled we were encouraged to do what we had to do around childcare and homeschool.
“I decided our house wasn’t big enough for two of us to work full time plus acting as a pre-school and a homeschool.
“My daughter was in pre-school by then so I changed my hours so I could drop her off in the morning, finish at 2pm to collect her from pre-school and then pick up work calls in the evening. That left my wife free to homeschool Bayln.”
Next also continued employee engagement efforts through lockdown. Instead of treats at their desk and fun stuff like a visit from an ice cream van, as happened when folk were in the office, care packages were mailed out to staff. A little box containing tea bags, some biscuits and a coaster that says ‘You’re Amazing’ on it showed appreciation and keeps stressed parents like Kalpesh tied to the company.
“I work hard in my job, it’s stressful but I don’t mind working harder given all the perks. I’ve worked other places where you had to account for every minute of the day and get written permission to finish a bit early. I tried to make sure my team appreciates all the benefits of working for Next.
“In fact they think I’m a bit cringey!”