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Published: 20 Jun 2019

Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield – Winner 2019, Best for Line Managers

3 key points

  • Mandatory training to support employees transitioning into caring
  • Workshops, training and one-to-one support to ensure managers understand how to best help flexible workers.
  • High levels of flexible working, mothers returning from maternity leave and fathers taking up Shared Parental Leave show support is right.

“I have been very impressed with the range of courses, workshops and overall support provided by the HR department. As a line manager of a team of 11, having up-to-date information affecting line managers is extremely important.”

Alok Vyavaharkar, Financial Controller Operations


URW provides a comprehensive range of measures to ensure line managers are supported and supportive. This includes one-to-one guidance from HR, checklists, and training in supporting employees transitioning into caring, and managing flexible workers.

All line managers meet with HR on a one-to-one basis when they are notified of a pregnancy or forthcoming parental leave in their team. A parental leave guide includes checklists for managers so they know what they need to do at each stage of leave, while a parental leave workshop for line managers provides insights into flexible working, how to avoid unconscious bias within teams, and coaching skills.

Line managers also receive specific training in flexible working, including what options are available to them and their employees and how best to support direct reports.

The training reminds managers that flexible working requests can only be refused on certain grounds and that the company’s ethos is to help employees achieve a good work life balance.

All employees, including line managers, are encouraged to take part in a series of wellbeing sessions that help staff optimise their physical, emotional and mental wellbeing.

As a result of this support for line managers, the right to request flexible working is highlighted to all parents returning from leave.

In 2018, all mothers returned from maternity leave and had their flexible working requests approved, or an alternative was agreed.

Nearly a third (31%) of eligible fathers took Shared Parental Leave in 2018. Men now account for 46 per cent of flexible working requests across the organisation and in 2018, all requests were approved.

Staff feedback shows the vast majority of employees are happy with the level of flexibility offered and would recommend the organisation to others. These results wouldn’t be possible without supportive line managers, who are guided by HR to achieve the best outcomes for employees and the business.