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Every Week is National Work Life Week at Zurich UK

Published: 7 Oct 2019

By Steve Collinson, Head of HR at Zurich, a Working Families employer member.

Empowering our people to work in a way that fits around their own personal needs is at the core of our business DNA. This is not simply a ‘bandwagon’ we’ve jumped on to gain media traction or fall in line with the crowd. At Zurich UK we were very early adopters of this initiative and today we’re proud to say that three out of four people in the UK take advantage of flexible working. When it comes to working part time 11% of Zurich employees already do this and half of these opt for a four day week. But this is just the start for us.

It’s the very same people centric approach to business which led us to work with an external research agency to find out how to really create a level playing field for all applicants. We now offer every vacancy advertised across the UK business as a potential part time, job share or agile working opportunity. We introduced this initiative on the back of some external research we carried out to find out why we had fewer women than men in senior technical roles and a low number of female applicants for senior positions. Analysis revealed that this was due in part to these roles not being available on a part time or flexible basis.

a bold first of its kind

It was a bold first of its kind initiative but we’re over the moon with the early results. Whilst a reduction in our gender pay gap will take time to filter through, already we’ve seen an increase of 45% in female applications for more senior roles.

Having the right work life balance isn’t just about the hours you work. We also recognise that every life stage brings its own level of complication and sometimes we need to tip the work life balance to our private lives. We really want to support people through these more challenging times when they may need more time away from work.

Our newly launched range of family friendly policies enables all new parents to take 16 weeks fully paid leave when they have a new child in their lives. As we strive to ensure all of our policies are truly inclusive we also offer this to parents that adopt. In addition to this we offer paid leave to support people going through IVF treatment as well as during really sad times if people suffer a miscarriage. We’ve also got a wider bereavement package which has also been reviewed and improved.

work life balance isn’t just about working mums

One of the things we talk about all the time at Zurich is that work life balance isn’t just about working mums. There are all kinds of reasons people need a more flexible approach to work. It could be; to look after ageing parents, develop a portfolio career, study or simply have more time to invest in hobbies and interests. For both new and existing employees, we want to empower people to work where, when and how they choose to optimise productivity and wellbeing and balance professional and personal commitments.

We believe that a culture of ‘last in the office’ is fairly antiquated. By offering people the opportunity to work in a way that suits their personal circumstances we can also open up a whole new talent pool. We believe that if you increase the number of part time senior level roles, it radically changes the challenges businesses face when sourcing top talent.

There are so many reasons why every week should be dedicated to work life balance across every business. We’ve never seen a fall in productivity as a result of agile working, in fact internal analysis shows that people across our business are much happier and more productive as a result of it.

National Work Life Week is Working Families’ annual initiative that gives employers the chance to showcase how they provide work life balance for their staff.

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Join the conversation using #WorkLifeWeek and tweet us @workingfamUK.


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