Has Rachel Fellows, UK Corporate Communications Manager of Kellogg’s, found the perfect work life balance which allows her both to have quality time with her four-year-old daughter and not have to put her career on the backburner? She thinks so.
Has Rachel Fellows found the perfect work life balance which allows her both to have quality time with her four-year-old daughter and not have to put her career on the backburner?
Rachel is UK Corporate Communications Manager at Kellogg’s and has been in post for two years. She describes her work as “hugely flexible” despite having to make a 100-mile round trip from Leeds to Manchester most days. She is not alone in doing this. Her manager commutes from Henley on Thames and also has children. “He’s very understanding and wants me to enjoy both my career and my family,” says Rachel.
This means she is trusted to work from home whenever she needs to. She tries to limit working from home to a Friday as she says the amount of trust placed in her by her manager and by the company means she wants to go the extra mile for them.
Her manager’s attitude is reflected in the company ethos. When she first joined from a post at Asda she was given a type of ID card and told to clock in and out. “I though it was a little bit spooky at first,” she says. “Then it was explained to me that it was to ensure that staff did not overwork.”
Kellogg’s, she says, expects high standards, but does not want its staff to burn out and wants them to have a life outside of work. It expects that people should get their work done within the hours set down in their contract. If they are having to work late, either they have too much work or they are not organising it properly.
Kellogg’s is very flexible, says Rachel, in that it sets down core hours of 10-12 noon and 2-4pm. “You can work flexibly around these,” she says. For instance, she adds: “On Mondays the M62 is the most horrible place on earth so I have breakfast and a chat with my daughter and drop her at school before I tackle it when it is calmer and I get to work by 10am and stay a little later. On Fridays if I go into work I leave before the rush hour.”
Every month her hours are reviewed and if she has overworked she can get those hours back again through taking up to six flex periods in a year. “The flexibility means I can share the school pick-ups and drop-offs,” she says. “And on Fridays I can walk my daughter to school and go to the park. The technology allows me to work remotely and, for instance, take part in teleconferences from my kitchen. It is incredibly valuable. I am 39 with 20 years of experience and that trust is priceless. It makes you want to give that extra bit of goodwill.”
All employees at Kellogg’s have this flexibility, whether they are parents or young singletons who balance work and hobbies or other responsibilities. “It has to be the norm,” says Rachel. She adds that some people flex their hours over the whole year and take bigger breaks in the summer. The company also operates a summer hours policy which means from May to September you can leave early on a Friday if you have done your core hours. You can also buy extra holidays or sell them.
“Kellogg’s has a huge amount of respect for personal time and ensures that this does not mean you cannot be ambitious,” she says.
Rachel believes this reaps them many benefits in terms of working parents in particular. “We tend to be more efficient and effective in our work and in general bring something extra. I do believe the things I have learnt as a parent have made me better in my career,” she says.
Rachel thinks that by openly acknowledging such issues, companies like Kellogg’s are changing the face of work so that it is measures by performance targets rather than bums on seats. “It’s a friendly, supportive and high-performing environment,” she says.