Mumsnet Family Friendly Programme: Leading the way in family friendly practices
Being Gold standard members of the Mumsnet Family Friendly Programme, Flamingo's Diane Foster and Laura Walmsley recently attended their innovation awards at Admiralty House in Whitehall. The main focus of the evening was a panel discussion chaired by Jonathan Freedland, award winning journalist, author and broadcaster on "How being family friendly can help your business thrive.” The panel members were Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women and Equalities - who described managing the delivery of her Cabinet Box at her home on Sunday mornings at the same time as feeding her son breakfast, Tim Munden, Vice President Human Resources Unilever and Lee Pinnington Marketing Director, Matalan.
The primary messages were ‘agile working – anytime, anywhere, anyplace ‘ and a move away from presenteeism to productivity and output. Increasingly businesses are engaging in a broader and less gendered discussion about the demand for flexibility and encouragingly employers are responding to multiple family needs, whether this be a younger generations of dads looking to be more actively involved in day to day childcare or the Sandwich Generation seeking greater flexibility to manage care for their elderly parents and growing families. Some companies were even offering employees time off to conceive! The employers who demonstrate empathy and understanding of their people and engage with them at different life stages are the ones who gain most competitive advantage. Success is based on nurturing positive relationships founded on trust, maturity and fluid communications between line managers and employees, which in turn delivers strong talent retention and cements flexible working in the workplace culture.
Nicky Morgan stated that there is a typical 20 year time lag between government policy and practice, so the transition towards men taking parental leave may take a while to change but the grass roots are starting modestly even in sectors such as banking where backfilling a job while someone is on extended paternity leave would never have happened even 10 years ago! Lee from Matalan was very passionate that when customers know you treat employees well, this helps to improve perceptions of the company image and brand. Matalan has introduced a Family Panel to generate new ideas from across the workforce which has been welcomed across the board. Engaging the cynics and trying to bridge the generational divide among line managers has worked in Barclays to encourage a refreshing change in attitude and culture. Unilever won its innovation award for launching MAPS (Maternity & Paternity Support) offering guidance and support for employees throughout the various stages of parenting, as well as another initiative which offered emergency childcare back up for those employees in roles where it was essential they be present. Unilever also won the customer facing Innovation award through the Dove Self Esteem Project delivering self esteem education to 8 – 17 year olds through lessons in schools, workshops and online resources with a target to reach 15 million young people by 2015.
Life and workplace are changing rapidly and it’s important to listen and respond to employee needs to stay ahead of the game and to help make the UK a family friendly place to work. Flamingo is keen to achieve its Family Friendly Gold status in 2016 – and it's even more of a challenge to retain it. We feel very passionately that we want to make Flamingo a great place to work for everyone at all life and careers stages and be known for showing flexibility. By joining the Family Friendly programme, we are optimistic that it will help inspire us to create standards and best practice which are both future facing and up to date with employee needs.
- Article by Laura Walmsley and Diane Foster