By Jo Harley MD Purple Cubed*
September, half the population breathe a sigh of relief that the kids are back to school, and half bemoan busy trains and roads again. Many of my friends and peers have spent the last six weeks pulling in favours, frantically juggling childcare, missing meetings and, above all, feeling guilty they are neither great employee nor a great parent.
There is still, unfortunately, a belief that people who would like to advance their careers need to choose between time with their loved ones and their career. That one or the other will suffer as a result, not helped by some media, the rising cost of childcare and the flexibility required for school holidays and suchlike.
This certainly doesn’t have to be the case if you have a strong company culture that will take individual circumstance into account, and absolutely doesn’t just apply to females, I’m anti-quota; pro best fit. Diversity is key; an all-female board, for example, seems no more desirable than an all-male one. Many men would love to take more time with their children, but still feel there is stigma attached to requesting this, despite ‘stay at home Dad’ numbers doubling in the last 25 years.
So, here are our top tips to attract, develop, engage and retain top talent whatever the family circumstance:
- Flexibility is key. Organisations are losing out on really great people because they won’t consider part time or job share arrangements. You’re likely to get far more bang for your buck from someone working a three or four day week as they’ll have to be super organised and will want to prove they are just as productive (if not more)
- Trust your people to do their job. Three of our working parents regularly leave early to get home for ‘bath and bed’ and make up their hours later, this makes for happier, more engaged and ultimately more productive people. That is if you move away from the idea that people need to be ‘in the office’ for a set amount of hours to fulfil their role. In the same vein, those without children are able to work from Paris, Turkey, USA and Bulgaria if it suits (that’s just Purple Cubed people in the last four weeks)
- Great communication. With flexible working comes less time chatting round the water cooler, put in place a mechanism for sharing information, digital is good, regular all company meetings and using skype for ‘chat’ so not to clog up the inbox.
*And Mum of two