Keynote speaker at the Awards ceremony in London is Minister for Equalities Jo Swinson who will be talking about government initiatives aimed at women in the workplace, such as shared parenting, the think act report framework for greater gender equality at work and the planned extension of flexible working.
She will also be taking part in a Q & A panel debate with the Award judges – Gillian Nissim, founder of Workingmums.co.uk
, Cary L. Cooper, Distinguished Professor of Organisational Psychology and Health, University of Lancaster, Jennifer Liston-Smith, Director of Coaching & Consultancy at My Family Care, Dave Dunbar, Head of BT Flexible Working Services and Clare Kelliher, Professor of Work and Organisation at Cranfield School of Management. They will be joined by Marcella Meechan, Director of International HR for William Hill.
The Awards are sponsored by last year’s winner Unilever [pictured]. It scooped both the Overall Top Employer and the Innovation in Flexible Working Award for its agile working programme which it launched in 2008 which has many business benefits. For instance, the use of premium video conferencing has saved £40 million and 113,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions through travel avoidance in 2011 alone, staff retention has increased [73% of staff say they are more likely to stay with the company as a result of its new ways of working] and productivity has been boosted [80% says their productivity has increased].
The company takes a holistic approach to flexible working which includes transforming the workplace. Offices are designed around activities
– the focus zone [an open plan desk area for individual work]; the connect zone [where they collaborate]; and the vitality zone which can include a gym, staff shop and other facilities such as a swimming pool, hair salon or even a spa – all designed to engage employees with the company’s brands.
These redesigned workplaces are also typically 30% cost and 40% energy-efficient, as technology enables staff to work more remotely.
It is also backed up by an extensive training programme of agile workshops and a global internal marketing campaign.
Best practice report
Workingmums.co.uk has just released a best practice report linked to last year’s Awards. It highlights what the winners of every award are doing to promote diversity and flexible working.
It also fulfills one of the main aims of the Workingmums.co.uk’s Top Employer Awards – to share good practice in family friendly working. Award winners reflect the full gamut of family friendly working from what works for microbusinesses to what the leading corporates are doing. While there is much talk of the business benefits of flexible working, Workingmums.co.uk feel that many employers need support and advice on how to get the most from it. Many people have mentioned, for instance, that small businesses found flexible working hard to implement.
In fact the report shows some truly innovative work in this area, including start-ups who use flexible workers whose hours can grow with their business. However, where there did seem to be more of a problem was with larger SMEs. Smaller employers could be more creative and the move from smaller to larger employer meant many practices that had been ad hoc had to be formalised and management structures had to be set up which consequently impacted on innovation and creativity.
Employers got around this by reviewing their whole work culture, as Unilever did on a bigger scale, and instituting company-wide training processes, but it was recognised that more support was needed at this particular stage of a company’s evolution.
To get a copy of the report, click here.