In Season one of our Leadership 2020 podcasts, we spoke to Sue Macmillan COO at Mumsnet about work-life balance. There is a solid, proven business case around offering employees flexible working to achieve work-life balance, particularly at a Leadership level.
Things are changing, companies are offering more flexibility and agile working and there is an increased appetite from employers to start having the conversations about how to create more flexible working environments to achieve work-life balance.
Companies in the Knowledge sector are showing signs of readjusting their thinking. The culture of presenteeism is realigning itself to focus on output and there are clear business advantages to this. Organisations like Deloitte have put in flexible working frameworks to great effect, giving tools to employees to work flexibly and remotely, trusting them to make right decisions and judging them on their output.
It requires imagination but there is a solid business case for flexibility for both men and women. Flexibility increases diversity and diversity is not only essential to readjust the gender pay gap but creates better, more profitable businesses. Companies with diverse teams are more innovative, gain market share, increase sales revenue, have more customers and are better as a business at solving complex problems.
Flexible-working, shouldn’t be the bastion of parents – particularly mums. It should be adopted company wide. Sue Macmillan, COO at Mumsnet, strongly believes most jobs can be flexible. “I haven’t spoken to anyone who has said ‘I’ve tried flexibility and it didn’t work.’”
Professions like Education – particularly in schools, are struggling to offer flexibility and nobody is thinking about how to reimagine this issue. Mumsnet research found the percentage of female teachers leaving their profession after having children is huge.
Corndel, as an education and training provider, is passionate about creating a culture that embraces flexible working. Sean Williams, CEO at Corndel, explains “We want to attract the highest level of talent and we recognize that to do this, we need to offer a flexible working culture so that our employees can achieve the work-life balance they need. This is a fundamental principle at Corndel. We offer it company-wide and we heavily support and promote it.”
Adam McGilvery, a Professional Development Expert at Corndel has been a performance coach and workshop facilitator in management and leadership for fifteen years. Adam has coached Managers and Leaders for clients including Aviva, Manchester City FC, British Gas, BBC Worldwide Hyundai and Virgin Media. Adam was involved in the design, delivery and review of the Coaching Programme within Morrisons that was awarded the Best Coaching Programme at the Training Journal Awards 2012. He was a one-to-one coach for Associate Solicitors and Partners on Talent Development Programme at DWF LLP. This coaching activity was part of the DWF Talent Development Programme and was awarded a highly commended finalist prize at the HR Excellence Awards 2012 for Best Talent Management Strategy.
Adam currently coaches’ learners on Corndel Diplomas for Asda. He was attracted to Corndel because of the culture of remote working and flexibility. ‘I hate winter and traditionally take 4–6 weeks off to go surfing in warmer climes. However, thanks to Corndel’s flexible approach to working and focus on output, I can work in places like Morocco, Portugal and France whilst managing my learners needs.’
Adam works three days a week over four days, which allows him to surf early in the morning and later at night, fitting his caseload requirements into a normal working day. ‘It’s completely achievable, if you can allocate your time correctly and put in place streamlined systems. My learners don’t care where I am, they care about getting the support they need and access to me when they need it. By achieving this work-life balance I am happier and more proactive. The concept of remote working and flexible working is thankfully becoming more commonplace. For companies to stay competitive, it’s a fundamental requirement if they want to attract and retain the highest levels of talent.’
Adam receives excellent feedback from his learners and client on a regular basis.
Sue Macmillan at Mumsnet, shares some advice for companies looking to proritise flexible working to achieve work-life balance:
- The CEO and Senior Leadership Team must constantly reinforce flexible working. Anyone signing off a job requests needs to ask the question ‘do you need someone five days a week or can you be flexible?’.
- Bring Line Managers on the journey. They need to understand why there is a focus on offering flexible working to achieve work-life balance and how to implement it on a job by job level. Offer training, showcase best practice etc. Readjust Line Managers thinking so that they understand they are managing for output not input.
Mumsnet recommend starting with a small-scale test. Companies will quickly see the results. There are a lot of shared learnings available and organisations like Mumsnet who are on hand to offer advice.
The current challenge is that we don’t end up with two-tier employment, with the knowledge economy and better paid work becoming more flexible, whilst leaving other industries behind. Life is an imperfect thing, everyone should benefit from flexible working, to achieve work-life balance at whatever stage and level of their career.
To listen to our Leadership 2020 Podcasts, click here.
Find out more about our Corndel Diplomas.