Royal Air Force, Finalist 2016, The Innovation Award

Key features

  • The New Parent Pack enables Royal Air Force personnel to access the information they need from anywhere in the world at any time.
  • Information is provided in individual leaflets on each parenting type and includes welfare and support information as well as policy targeted to information need, rather than in one large policy document.
  • The New Parent Pack can be tailored with local information.
  • The New Parent Pack has become the go-to source of information, reducing the queries received by HR.

A series of maternity consultation events, run with servicewomen spanning all stages of motherhood, demonstrated to the Royal Air Force (RAF) that both Service personnel and their managers were having difficulty navigating through the complexity of all the parenting leave policy. This was perceived by personnel as a lack of support from their managers, hampering regular dialogue.

The solution the RAF has created is the New Parent Pack: an initiative to ensure all new parents and their line managers are given policy and welfare information to assist both sides with planning the parents time away from the workplace, providing support whilst on leave right through to the transition back to work. Both the focus on leave and the communication of the New Parent Pack have been truly innovative for the RAF.

With employees around the world, the RAF had to find a way to communicate important information to new parents and their line managers, to facilitate informed decision making. Unlike many other workplaces, Service personnel can sometimes be required to start a new job at a new location on return from a long period of parenting leave. Thus, information-sharing could not be restricted to the Ministry of Defence intranet, as access to this system would be limited whilst on leave. Additionally, the information could not be time zone dependant. Success for the RAF is ensuring that every service person and line manager has access to the information that they need, anywhere in the world, at any time of day. Therefore, it was determined that publishing both electronic and paper documents would meet the need.

The information provided in the pack is tailored to each family so, for example, those personnel who were adopting did not have to read through all of the maternity information and vice versa.  To enable this bespoke approach, the New Parent Pack was made up of a series of individual leaflets rather than one large policy document.

The leaflets do not just include policy; they also include guidance on childcare vouchers, RAF uniform, accessing housing and childcare and returning to work. To enhance the pack, units are encouraged to include any specific local information such as activities and groups.

So far, anecdotal evidence suggests that the packs are meeting the aim of giving personnel easy access to the information they need at a time when they are making important life decisions. Feedback indicates that the documents are highly regarded and well used resulting in the Army and Royal Navy showing an interest in adopting the New Parent Pack as best practice. In addition, the number of parenting leave questions received by both unit HR clerks and the RAF Employment Policy team has reduced significantly since the launch of the packs.