Date: Wednesday the 22nd November
I was looking forward to share my views and thoughts on a very interesting “Great Business Debate” organised by CBI (Read more about CBI here) in association with Mumsnet. I joined another Mumsnet Blogger “John Adams from DadblogUK” along with Justine Roberts, the founder and CEO of Mumsnet, the leading parenting network to discuss what we think “as parents” about “Flexible Working”. There were HR Directors, Policy and Recruitment managers of the UK’s leading businesses.
The debate was focused on the following points
What’s the role of employers in helping their employees to balance their work and life.
How comfortable the employees are to discuss the flexible working options.
How the employers can improve their policies to help employees make use of the facilities
How to encourage transparency and diversity at every level to improve the comfort zone.
After a brief introduction about CBI from Katja Hall, Deputy Director-General of CBI, on how CBI helps businesses of all sizes and sectors in the UK+, Justine Roberts shared the views of Mumsnetters and some interesting facts of flexible working at Mumsnet including those biscuits break that I love:)
The most repeated statement in the discussion was
” Flexible working isn’t just a Mum’s issue.
It is for anyone who would benefit from flexible working including dads and carers of the elderly.
Though 9 out of 10 employers provide some form of flexibility, there are many employees who are reluctant to discuss the options with their managers. The business should aim and improve the practise to encourage its employees to come forward and discuss about the flexible working options to suit their family life.
The more the balanced work and life, the less will be the Stress.
The working culture has improved a lot over the decades, however, employers must do more to help employees to have a stress free work and life balance.
Carol Rosati, Director – Global Head Inspire of Harvey Nash insisted “tone must be set from the top, heard by bottom and not blocked by the middle!
The culture of 9 -5 and “it all depends on your line Manager” can change.
Internal referrals plays a vital role in hiring new employees and internal job transfers are encouraged some (most) times than hiring new faces. Businesses should come forward to celebrate diversity and make use of the talents. Rather than preferring internal job transfers (unless there is a need), it would be nicer to encourage more advertising of any new openings and justify why a job cannot be flexible if they feel so.
When Sarah Jackson, Chief Executive of Working Families brought a point to the table, I felt just like she read my mind. “26 weeks of continuous employment to avail the SPP and SMP needs to be reconsidered” as the rule forces the parents either to take unpaid holidays or to continue working spending less time with their newborn child.
And if mums preferred to take a long maternity break, businesses shouldn’t put them in an uncomfortable position asking them “How long is your break!? “. Businesses need to be open to accept the importance of parents spending quality time with their children’s early stages and appreciate the skills and not let them down.
Katja Hall and Justine Roberts concluded the debate highlighting the following points:
CBI has pushed, and will keep pushing, for flexible working because it makes good business and benefits both employees and employer.
Flexible working is an option available to anyone who needs it and shouldn’t be seen as “Just a Mum’s issue”
Make a formal process to ask for flexibility.
Managers should understand the benefits of flexible working and should be happy to discuss the options with their team rather than being a bottleneck
Encourage Shared paternity leave option
We have travelled to a great place from where we were at the beginning of the century, Let’s all appreciate the importance of a well balanced work and life, encourage flexibility and implement the ways to improve the productivity
You can follow Great Business Debate @bizdebate and get more information about the debate using the hashtags #flexibleworking and #bizdebate on social media channels and refer here to read more articles.
For more Mumsnet views, follow the link here at “Are mums getting a good deal from business?” (It could have been Parents and not just Mums 🙂 )
Thanks Mumsnet and CBI for giving me an opportunity to share my views, it was indeed a great experience.