The first definitive list of top employers for working families has been published by Working Famiiles as part of National Family Week.
The winners have been judged according to the following issues: flexible working, childcare provision, maternity and/or paternity policy and help with eldercare responsibilities.
NHS and SMEs
The list is sponsored by My Family Care and Ernst & Young. The NHS, Britain’s biggest employer, was mentioned as a whole as having had a huge influence on working practices, but practice varies from trust to trust so the most forward-thinking was singled out. Small businesses were also recognised in general for their contribution, wtih three examples being cited.
Speaking to Working Mums,Sarah Jackson, Chief Executive of Working Families said: “They have been chosen not just on how they perform in terms of family friendly policies, but on how they got to where they are now. Some of them have developed their policies over a long period of time and some have come into the picture fairly recently.”
She said that the employers and their policies show a trend from policies to attract mums back to work after they have had children to those including fathers and eldercare responsibilites. “These are growing issues,” said Jackson, adding that the best employers had decided early on against restricting things like flexible working policies only to people with caring responsibilities. “The best employers make these available to everyone,” she said. “Flexible working is becoming understood as a natural way of working that enables people to prosper at work.”
The judges – Jackson, Patricia Hewitt MP, Professor Carey Cooper and Fleur Bothwick, Director or Diversity and Inclusiveness at Ernst & Young – looked at the overall package offered to all employees in their company, how that had been sustained over the years and how the employer had influenced other employers.
The shortlist was selected after Working Families asked its network of employers, including past winners of its top employers status, who they rated. Nominating employers had to write a supporting statement and give three examples of significant milestones that had marked where the company had got to today with its family friendly policies.
A brilliant day
The judges spent “a brilliant day” deliberating. “It was a very interesting debate,” said Jackson. “There were some tough decisions and some organisations will be disappointed,” she added. The latter, she remarked, showed how important being noted for family friendly policies had become. “It has been very interesting to see how best practice awards are being taken more and more seriously,” she said, adding that employers who had been singled out by Working Families in the past were still getting people applying and mentioning the awards. “Being able to say you are one of the best family friendly empoyers is very attractive. In the past 10 years, we have been in a war for talent. Being an employer of choice has become increasingly important,” she stated. Although recruitment is not a top priority at the moment, she said companies who wanted to stay ahead still needed to compete for talent.
She cited Patricia Hewitt as saying that it would not have been possible to have such a list 15 years ago. “She said we should not forget how far we have come,” said Jackson.
The employers listed were delighted. Fiona Cannon, group equality and diversity director at Lloyds TSB, said: “The need to juggle commitments both at home and at work is a reality of modern life, so adopting flexible policies is essential to retaining talented and experienced employees. In recent years, Lloyds TSB has been very vocal about the need for flexibility in the workplace. We want to put out a message to our current and prospective employees and our customers, that family friendly practices are very much part of our DNA.”