The professional services giant believes happy dads are good for families – and for business.
As a technical director at Deloitte, one of the UK’s largest professional services firms, Greg Hill is an expert in his field, and a man the business trusts to finds solutions to difficult problems.
As a working dad, he can be just as flummoxed as the rest of us. One recent conundrum? “What on earth to do with my children over the long summer holidays!”
The solution to this all-too-familiar parenting dilemma was to enjoy what Deloitte calls a Time Out. The scheme lets employees take a four-week period of unpaid leave once a year, for any reason, at a time that suits them and the business. Time Out was introduced in 2014 as part of its agile working approach, and over 850 employees have taken it so far. For Greg, it meant being at home with his family for a large chunk of a long summer holiday.
The scheme lets employees take a four-week period of unpaid leave once a year, for any reason, at a time that suits them and the business
A better work/life balance
Time Out is one of a raft of options that Deloitte has introduced to help all of their people, including their working parents, balance their commitments outside work with a successful career – and to give new mums and dads the smoothest possible start to their parenting journey.
Unusually, the company offers dads paid leave to attend antenatal appointments. It also offers enhanced pay during maternity, paternity and shared parental leave. This is especially welcome, because studies show that financial concerns are stunting the take up of Shared Parental Leave (SPL).
More than money
But as the Time Out scheme shows, it’s not just about money. The company offers parents emergency backup childcare for those occasions when the childminder comes down with flu or the nursery springs a leak. It encourages parents in its workforce to meet up through its Working Families Network.
Since 2014, Deloitte has also focused on embedding agile working more broadly – a term which embodies both formal flexible working practices and the kind of informal arrangements workers can discuss and agree with line managers.
Emma Codd, Deloitte’s managing partner for talent, says: “Agile working doesn’t necessarily mean formal approaches like reduced presence or term-time working – it can mean more informal approaches like flexing hours or working from home when needed. It is about working in a way that suits both the individual and the business.”
A solution that adds up
Deloitte’s approach to agile working is underpinned by three simple principles – trust and respect, open and honest communication, and judging solely on output. The key is that, whether formal or informal, any agile request works for everyone concerned – that is, both the individual and the business.
What’s clear in all this is that Deloitte is going well beyond what is demanded of it by law, and also what might be expected of the company when judged against other large businesses. For example, when it comes to flexible working, the law only states that, if an employee asks for it, an employer must consider the request. When it comes to cold, hard cash, employers are under no legal obligation to top up the £145.18 per week parents receive as statutory pay.
So why does Deloitte offer so much more, from enhanced pay to Time Out to other forms of agile working? “When I took on my role in 2013, people were telling us they wanted better work/life balance, despite us providing all the standard flexible working options you would expect from an employer of 17,000 plus people. When I looked further at this, it quickly because clear that people believed that there was stigma attached to a request to work flexibly – they believed that this way of working could adversely impact their careers,” says Emma.
“Today, the story is very different – we have a reputation for providing our people with the means to balance a great career with commitments outside work. Now, work life balance is no longer the main reason people choose to leave our firm, and people actually choose to join us because of our approach to agile working. Our people tell us they feel trusted to decide when, where and how they work.”
In other words, there is a clear business case for organisations offering a more agile working life to the parents in its workforce (or indeed, in Deloitte’s case, to everyone). The company attracts great people, and retains them, because of an acceptance that the happiest, most productive employees are those with a satisfying life away from the office.
Deloitte’s approach to agile working is underpinned by three simple principles – trust and respect, open and honest communication, and judging solely on output
The end of a stigma
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The millennial dad at work is now LIVE. A comprehensive study of over 2000 working dads to explore the challenges of modern day fatherhood at work. – 1/3 of dads have changed jobs and another 1/3 are actively looking – there’s a large gap between what flexible working dads are requesting vs what their being given – only just over 1/2 think dads are treated equally to mums in their workplaces. Thanks to @deloitte for supporting the research! #dadsatwork Full report link in bio.
Evidence from Deloitte shows that, when a company actively encourages agile working, employees respond. That’s important, because research suggests that dads will often refuse to ask for more flexible, family-friendly working patterns if they think that doing so will harm their careers or hopes of promotion.
Having called this out as an issue in 2013, today no such stigma exists at Deloitte. The number of formal flexible workers has risen by over 40% in five years, and while most of them are women, 43% of employees taking Time Out are men. On top of that, a recent firm-wide survey showed that 70% of respondents of both genders were regularly taking advantage of informal working arrangements.
Deloitte has showed that giving parents more choice in their working lives, and more ways to combine work and family life, comes at no cost to business (and we can probably trust Deloitte to have properly run the numbers). Unlike some other organisations, the firm has created an environment that respects the role of dads as much as it respects the role of mums. The success of its family friendly policies are a lesson for everyone.