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Best Practice Report released by workingmums.co.uk for International Women’s Day has plenty in it for dads too
Simple steps can make a huge difference to company culture and employees’ work -life balance according to a new report from workingmums.co.uk
The new Best Practice Report highlights ways companies are rethinking their approach to family friendly practices and many are helping men achieve a more fulfilling work-life balance via simple and inexpensive changes.
The report, published to coincide with International Women’s Day, draws on the best practice illustrated by firms that won Top Employer Awards.
It includes research that shows three quarters of men have considered searching for a job that offers flexible working. However almost as many men fear a negative reaction from their employers if they were to ask for a new working arrangement that veered from regular hours.
The report shows businesses that are sympathetic to the demands of family life can thrive and benefit from improved motivation and loyalty from their staff. Simple steps can be transformative for business and help them foster a happier workforce who are more productive and less likely to leave the company, reducing recruitment costs.
Construction firm Morgan Sindall Construction and Infrastructure, who won the Family Support award at the workingmums awards last year, showed how a simple step could have a big impact. By condensing the information about their shared parental leave policy to one side of A4 they drove up not just awareness of the measure but also take up.
The firm also introduced paid ante-natal leave for men, enhanced maternity, paternity and shared parental pay and leave policies and takes a sympathetic approach to flexible working requests. Employees praise their bosses as a result.
Phil Conroy, a management accountant at the Cumbrian firm, works flexibly. He says, “I have noticed a real change in the company culture.
Work recognises that both men and women need flexible working and the company offers support for both parents in relation to family life.” He says his line manager has been very supportive and understands the stresses faced by working parents of young children. “The flexibility I have in relation to my work location and start and finish times really helps and we appreciate the support,” says Phil.
Another company highlighted in the report is Radioactive PR, a Gloucestershire based agency that introduced a four day week.
Rich Leigh, the boss of Radioactive PR, claims the change has been good for his employees without denting the company’s performance any. “Why are we still working like it’s the 1970s?,” he asks. “Is it because it is the way things have always been done that change terrifies people? People are already working differently. It is not about working harder; it is about whether we can work smarter.”
Leigh, a father of three who set up the company, compares the reaction to his decision to reduce the working week to the resistance to switching to a five day week working 9-5 over 100 years ago. He acknowledges it wouldn’t be right for everyone but he reckons many more firms could take up the measure successfully.
The Best Practice Report also looked at the issue of returners, a key focus of government and business in recent years looking to tap into the expertise of women that have been out of the workforce for a number of years. But as family life changes and more men take time out to look after their children returner programmes are increasingly looking to include fathers in their scope.
Gillian Nissim founder of workingdads.co.uk and workingmums.co.uk says, “Tackling gender inequality is a long-term issue with deep roots and it will not be fixed overnight. However, that is all the more reason for employers to work together to address some of the broader social issues around gender stereotypes, to share what others are doing and to discover what is effective and what isn’t.
“That is the purpose of our Best Practice Reports.
“They bring together what some of the most progressive employers are doing to ensure they have the best talent and develop the potential of all their employees.
The aim is to provide ideas and inspiration around areas such as career progression in a flexible role, flexible job design and challenging traditional career pathways. We hope it will provide food for thought – and action.”
The Best Practice Report can be accessed free by filling in the form below.