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Published: 26 Jun 2024

Independent Living Fund Scotland – Winner 2024, Best Small Employer

Independent Living Fund Scotland (ILF Scotland) have embedded a life-friendly culture where putting their people first has been fundamental to co-creating and delivering impactful policies and delivering outcomes for their recipients. 

A people-first culture  

Putting people first is in the DNA of ILF Scotland. They have collaboratively developed a policy framework to reflect the diverse needs of the workforce. Flexible life-friendly working goes beyond working arrangements and instead is seen as a tool to better understand the personal circumstances of the team and a way to work together to design a solution which meets the needs of the business and the individual. This caring approach is recognised by ILF Scotland as their strongest asset but is also seen as making good business sense due to the impact on attracting and retaining a high calibre of staff, despite being an organisation with limited resources.  It is a key element of delivering value for money for public funding and excellent services to disabled people and empowers colleagues to achieve all of the organisation’s objectives each year.  Most recently, it has been central to ILF Scotland’s ability to launch a reopened fund, despite greater demand on staff capacity with 1,000 new disabled people expected to benefit from funding just in Year 1 on time, on budget and in universal agreement of all partners.   

A flexible approach 

Staff are empowered and trusted to adopt the working pattern that suits them. Managers at every level, many of whom most have caring responsibilities, role model flexible working from the outset. For example, taking time to care for disabled family members to attending school events or dealing with the complications of moving home, no situation is an issue.  Culturally, managers demonstrate that it’s the norm to be adaptable and that flexibility is accepted at every level by visibly ‘signing off’ when leaving work. A programme of line-management training and support enables effective management of flexible and remote working teams, and guidance is provided on maternity and paternity leave. 

Family-friendly policies  

Maternity and Adoption leave is offered at 26 weeks full-pay and 26 weeks half-pay. It is non-repayable should an employee decide not to return, and income smoothing is on offer throughout the term. A fully paid phased return over six weeks is available. Up to 15 days paid ‘time off’ is available every year to care for dependants, with a further five days unpaid available. For every one day’s annual leave taken to act as a carer, ILF match it, up to a maximum of five extra days paid leave. However, additional time can be agreed by the organisation for exceptional circumstances.  

Measure of success  

The success of culturally-embedded flexibility is evident in the low rates of staff turnover (historically around 2% average over the last 8 years). Staff absence is consistently lower than the public sector average, despite around 20%of the workforce having disabilities or underlying health conditions. Staff satisfaction is high, with 93% feeling valued, and on average 64% reported an improvement in both mental and physical health. Moreover 86% felt able to share work or personal issues with their line manager and 100% reported the life-friendly approach being of value and working for them. More importantly, the disabled people who receive funding from ILF Scotland think very highly of the service and staff support they receive.  In recent externally verified research for every £1 ILF Scotland spends on enabling independent living each year, it provides over £12 in Social Return on Investment (SROI).  Or to put that in context, ILF Scotland provides over £0.5 Billion of SROI each year with the funds it distributes to over 8,000 disabled people each year.  Therefore, it is evident that life friendly working, is integral in enabling staff to provide this support.        

A work in progress  

Despite their progress, ILF Scotland are not standing still, and agreed to reduce the working week to 35 hours to support wellbeing from the 01 April 2024 (a reduction of around 5% of working time for the same salary), an evolved training programme focused on ‘doing the right thing’, and ongoing review, feedback and engagement to ensure the flexible principles are working in practice.  

Independent Living Fund Scotland (ILF Scotland) have embedded a life-friendly culture where putting their people first has been fundamental to co-creating and delivering impactful policies and delivering outcomes for their recipients.