Mitch Burnett found a flexible role at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency that suits his family life and helps alleviate some of that dad guilt that many working dads know.
Like many men Mitch Burnett didn’t really think about flexible working until he became a dad.
When his daughter arrived last year he got two weeks of paternity leave from the recruitment role he was in then.
But he wasn’t prepared to put up with that. “In my previous role there was very little consideration of what people had going on outside work. If I’d wanted to work from home I would have to factor in what the commitments would be when I went back into the office.
“So I decided to look for a role with a properly flexible option.”
He found it at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA). He joined as HR Resourcing Manager in the autumn.
“It just clicked. They have a very clear cut policy. I can work full time and work around our childcare needs.”
Core hours are 10am-4pm. That allows Mitch to drop his daughter at the childminder, while his partner can collect her at the other end of the day while Mitch makes up his time at work.
The feeling of being in control is valuable. Their daughter starts her day in childcare when her parents decide rather than having her routine dictated by Mitch’s work. She can settle in without her dad watching the clock or feeling he has to dash off.
The practice is great. But flexible working really takes root in workplaces that embrace the culture that goes with it.
That seems to be the case at the MCA. “There’s a culture of trust and mutual respect,” explains Mitch. “If I have to leave at 3pm on a Friday for example, I can speak to my line manager and they will typically say that since I manage my own diary, if I have the hours that’s fine.”
That ethos has value at firms where the ultimate aim is to make healthy profits. At MCA the results are more vital than that. “The ultimate goal of the MCA is to save lives. We’re all enthused by that. It also means that at the back of your mind you know you can’t abuse that trust because the work is important.”
Mitch’s HR role means he’s responsible for hiring staff varying from office roles to people willing to hang from cliffs. (His role is based at the organisation’s Southampton HQ. He’s sat in one of the rescue choppers but not had a shot in one yet!) So he knows what people want from a job.
“I’m 28 and I feel that anyone around my age is looking for that flexibility, that support for family life. Anyone younger than me, new to the world of work, they are expecting a more human way of working. That’s why the brands who are attracting high level graduates are offering flexibility.”
As well as genuine flexible working the MCA has a strong Shared Parental Leave policy and generous paternity leave. All roles are advertised as being open to full time, part time or flexible working.
It is very different to the cutthroat commercial world of recruitment Mitch has left behind. The financial incentives may have been bigger but once he became a dad Mitch realised there’s more to life than just cash.
“The benefits and support at MCA are worth their weight in gold,” he explains. “I’d had my head down and been progressing in my career. It took us a long time to have a baby and when she arrived it just hit me in the face. I had two weeks off then I was back to work and it felt strange.
“At the MCA it’s different. It’s a grown up way of working.”
That approach brings a big benefit that any working dad would relish. The guilt that goes with being a working parent is diminished.
“You don’t need to justify yourself or your hours and that removes a lot of the guilt. That makes me more comfortable to provide the support to my partner Laura and our daughter, the support my family needs.”