Employers are increasingly recognising that equality in the workplace is linked to equality at home and that offering working dads the same support as working mums is not only something that employees value, but is good for business too.
One organisation that stands out in its offering to dads is Lloyds Banking Group, which recently won the Best for Dads award at Workingmums.co.uk’s Top Employer Awards.
The increased emphasis on dads comes in part from the discussions around the Shared Parental Leave [SPL] legislation through which mothers and fathers can opt to share leave in the year after their child’s birth. Lloyds Banking Group provides the same support to dads and mums who take Shared Parental Leave, including enhanced Shared Parental Pay. Dads thinking of taking the leave are talked through the policy and given the opportunity to ask questions prior to taking leave and contacted about their return just before they go back to work. There is also a dedicated helpline for those needing advice.
In 2016 the Group launched the Family Matters colleague network. It has brought together members from the parenting arm of the Woman’s network and also those with caring responsibilities. A series of parenting masterclasses are run as Webex calls through the network and these are well attended by dads. Some are specifically for dads; others are more general. Those which are popular with dads include parents of children with disabilities – run regularly, parenting toddlers, parenting teens, working dads. Other classes include managing guilt as a working parent, caring for the family and dealing with your child being bullied.
The programme is being refined based on demand, with issues like transitioning to school, children and learning and transitioning to secondary school being flagged. “Increasingly both parents are working and both parents need access to this kind of support. For so long the focus has been on the mum and parenting is a joint responsibility. Sessions are recorded and are searchable so colleagues can attend or listen later at their own convenience,” says Carla Welsh, Inclusion and Diversity Manager. Some 8.5K people have joined the parenting network which has ambitious plans for further growth in 2017. Additionally, the network connects colleagues and allows discussion and forums.
For new dads, Lloyds has also recently rolled out a Group wide e-learning module called ‘New Fathers & Partners’ and line managers of new dads are encouraged to take time to work through the module which aims to give managers the tools to support those preparing to take or returning from paternity leave or SPL. It includes how to manage the impact of their leave through a blend of advice, information, hints and tips and real life case studies.
There is also a new knowledge centre for the dads themselves which includes advice and support, including a Q&A section, information on all aspects of parenting and a range of lunch and learn sessions. This builds on live sessions on working dads held by the Parenting network which included working dads giving advice and support about issues such as flexible working. In addition, dads who are not employees are able to join in pre- and post-maternity/adoption calls for mums who are employees.
To measure employee engagement and get the feedback to improve its policies Lloyds Banking Group conducts a bi-annual survey. Employees are asked how they feel about working for Lloyds and about Lloyds’ different initiatives. The data collected can be filtered in different ways, such as by gender, by caring responsibilities or by working pattern. The survey goes out to 80,000 people and has a high take-up rate. A number of questions about agile working have been added to the bi-annual survey so that the Group can build on the progress it has already made on issues like remote working and hiring with greater diversity, “We know that agile working is the one thing that makes a big difference for working families,” adds Welsh.
Lloyds Banking Group is a founding member of the Agile Future Forum and agile working is supported and sponsored by the Group Executive Committee. In 2015 the Group launched its agile working programme led by a dedicated agile working project team, reporting to the Group Inclusion and Diversity Director.
To bring flexible working to life a high profile ‘Getting Smart about agile working’ campaign was set up which has five pillars: agile culture, agile workforce, agile tools and technology, agile property and agile travel. The campaign website provides support and tools for each as well as case studies demonstrating the business benefits of flexible working. Agile working now extends from recruitment, including job design and job adverts, to reducing working in advance of retirement. Agile working applications are formally tracked, with a very high percentage being approved. There is mandatory training in agile working for all workers and performance across agile working patterns is monitored – in the Asset Finance Division, for instance, a homeworking initiative increased the number of answered calls by 10%.
The Group has also developed an agile working toolkit for managers which considers agile working from different perspectives, such as agile hours or location, and is designed to open up discussions about agility. This is supported by agile tools and technology which has been improved to support remote working. Webex has been rolled out across the group. The group’s property is also being used in an agile way through hot desks and local hubs.
According to the latest employee survey, 25,000 staff have applied for formal agile working, with 25% of applications being from men. This does not fully reflect the number who are working flexibly, many of whom do so in an ad hoc way rather than through a formal agreement.
The Group is constantly looking for ways to improve what it offers to dads. “We are constantly reviewing everything and listening to our colleagues.” says Welsh.
*Carol Breckenridge, Resourcing manager – specialist resourcing at Lloyds Banking Group [left] receives the Best for Dads award.