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Published: 20 Jun 2018

Highlands and Islands Enterprise – Joint Winner 2018, Best Public Sector Employer

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) promotes economic growth across the region and offers a range of flexible working options to all staff, including those approaching retirement, to ensure they perform at their best. 

Key Points

  • Uncapped ‘special leave’ for emergency situations
  • Flexibility promoted to all employees including those approaching retirement 
  • Staff turnover 6.25 per cent compared with 17.7 per cent in public sector bodies nationally 

While 30 per cent of HIE employees have a formal agreement on flexible working, all staff can take advantage of informal or ad-hoc flexibility, such as amending start or finish times or taking a few hours off for appointments, school appointments and shows etc. 

More than 50 per cent of women returning from maternity leave in the last three years requested flexible working and all were accommodated. 

HIE offers 27 weeks’ paid maternity and adoption leave, and three weeks’ paid paternity leave. It provides three days’ supported community volunteering and time off to research and access carer resources.  

Flexible working and an uncapped ‘special leave’ policy support staff in a variety of situations, such as parents with disabled children, dependents going through specialist treatment, or other complex domestic needs. 

Staff can access several peer networks, eg. Connecting Carers and women returning to work. 

Last year HIE set up a staff engagement forum reflecting a ‘diagonal slice’ of the organisation’s employee make-up. It forms a key part of consultation and communication on family friendly policies. 

HIE’s staff turnover rate is 6.25 per cent, significantly lower than the public sector national average of 14.7 per cent. Employee retention rate is high with 93 per cent staying more than one year.  HIE’s average time lost to sickness absence is 1.99 per cent, compared with the UK average of 2.8 per cent.  

In addition to supporting parents with childcare responsibilities, HIE promotes flexibly working to older employees approaching retirement to ensure it retains skills and expertise and has proper succession planning in place. It is currently reviewing its flexible working policy to better reflect this need and several employees have volunteered to attend feedback workshops to support this. 

Having team members working remotely and with a range of different working patterns has been a positive experience for the team overall, as well as for Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

Audrey MacIver, Director for Energy, Highlands and Islands Enterprise.