As we prepare to celebrate the Personnel Today Awards in November, it’s time to showcase those organisations that made the shortlists for each category. Here we profile three worthy employers who made the grade in the Family Friendly Employer of the Year category.
Civil Service HR, the Cabinet Office
Civil Service HR provides central support to around 450,000 employees, spread across different departments that have their own HR policies. A 2019 survey found that 85,000 of those employees felt that they received enough help and support in caring responsibilities for family or friends. The responses from this survey prompted Civil Service HR to produce a new carers’ dashboard to support individuals with their caring responsibilities.
Personnel Today Awards 2020
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A Carers Charter sets out the department’s overall commitment to supporting carers and links managers to relevant HR policies and support tools. All main departments have adopted the CS Carer’s Passport, which was introduced in 2018.
This means carers and managers can agree to flexible arrangements to enable them to combine caring responsibilities with work, and this can be taken from post to post across the Civil Service. Last year, new central guidance was issued on how special leave could be used to support carers.
The CS Carers Network, formed in 2018, works with Civil Service HR to develop central initiatives, while each department is encouraged to have a carer’s champion – 22 departments and agencies now have one. There is also a push to bring together HR and diversity representatives from different departments to share best practice. They have also been encouraged to participate in the Carer Confident accreditation scheme.
These moves have shown a positive impact on culture and engagement. The 2019 Employee Engagement Index for Carers increased to 59%, up 4 percentage points since 2016. More than half of carers (54%) said they intended to remain with the Civil Service for the next three years compared to a benchmark score of 44%, while 52% felt there were opportunities for them to develop in their career. There is also increased confidence in employees disclosing that they are carers.
SimplifyER is a team of established legal and HR professionals that supports clients with employment law questions and compliance. It offers a retainer service so employers can reach the guidance they need, have the right documents in place and legal expenses cover to protect against the cost of a potential tribunal.
As founder and CEO, Zameer Nazarali aims to create an environment where his own employees can value their family time while also developing their career. Remote working is a key part of this, and employees are granted the flexibility to work around their childcare responsibilities at times that suit them rather than within the rigid 9 to 5 work day. Technology supports this – systems are cloud-based so can be accessed anywhere and electronic signature systems mean documents can be signed off efficiently. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, the team embraced virtual meetings and WhatsApp communications to keep things going.
This approach has been positive in terms of attraction and retention. Farheen, one of SimplifyER’s consultants, recently returned to work after a 10-year career break and has appreciated the autonomy to take ownership of her work, saying “I couldn’t have asked for a better work-life balance”. Louise Woodhouse, who works in accounts and finance, says that since joining the company she has “always felt valued and supported both in my role, as an individual and as a parent”.
West Midlands Police
West Midlands Police recognises the importance of maintaining and achieving a balance between work and home life, and recently reviewed its approach to flexible working to ensure it gave fair and reasonable consideration to all employees, regardless of protected characteristics.
The force decided to broaden its flexi-working hours to incorporate a 7am start, which would enable employees to accrue their hours over a 12-week period in a more flexible way without the need for a formal application process. It also recognises that there may be times in life when people need to take an extended time away from work to focus on other aspects of their life – a career break scheme offers the opportunity to take unpaid leave for a period of up to five years.
West Midlands Police has adoption, maternity, parental and shared parental leave policies in place for both staff and officers, with a generous maternity leave on offer of up to 15 months. Paid reduced hours are available for pregnant women or those looking at IVF, while parental leave of up to four weeks is on offer if an employee needs to care for a dependent. Anyone who has lost a child after 28 weeks can access paid maternity or paternity leave.
During Covid-19, the chief constable launched a colouring competition for children of employees to acknowledge the fact that many parents were juggling homeschooling with work; another competition asked ‘juniors’ to design new health and safety posters for the force so they could feel more connected to their employer. During Ramadan, the force supports fasting colleagues to ensure they have time with their families. In addition to extending many benefits to family members, West Midlands Police regularly runs ‘family matters’ events discussing topics such as fertility treatment and adoption.
These supportive policies have had a positive impact on recruitment and senior representation. Sixty-one percent of the force executive team is female, while over half of police staff senior roles (Directors and Assistant Director roles) are held by women. This year the force attracted the highest number of female applicants in its history for PC recruitment, while female officers are having higher success rates in promotion to sergeant and inspector roles.