Case study: Centrica.

At Centrica success depends on its people and it knows that family wellbeing really matters. Its robust approach to flexible working enables it to retain skills and expertise because employees find it possible to balance work with personal commitments.

An employee puts it like this: “Centrica has supported me to find the right balance for my family and career. The flexibility makes it easy for me to get the most from both my work and family life - and the business gets the best from me in return”.

Centrica is continuously developing its approach. It recently supported the development of a “Dad’s network” which provides a valuable route to connect with working fathers and understand their needs. The right to request flexible working is available from the first day of employment and the business has piloted training for managers to improve the way they respond to requests. Centrica is also broadening its commitment to its diverse workforce by exploring the benefits of enhanced flexibility through agile working.

The organisation provides enhanced pay for maternity, paternity, dependants and adoption leave, as well as paid time-off for father/partners attending ante-natal appointments. Centrica plans to extend these benefits to surrogacy and foster parents later this year.

Centrica’s proactive approach to engaging working parents includes supporting a number of employee-led networks. The new “Centrica Dad’s Network” follows the success of the ‘Centrica Women’s Network’, which, alongside development and career support for all women, has a specific focus on supporting working mothers.

Improving the ‘return to work’ experience for parents and careers is another development. A new pilot programme ensures support is available before, during and after maternity and paternity leave. The organisation is also developing a ‘Cross-business Returnship Programme’ to attract and support skilled people who have been out of work for extended periods of time, such as carers, to facilitate their return to the workplace.

Centrica also actively engages with its current carer employees. The ‘Centrica Carers Network’ has 1000 members, just under 3% of the 36,000 strong workforce, keeping the business .in touch with the needs of carers. Centrica now provides a range of benefits such as one month matched carers leave per year.

This networked engagement and support is backed by an online portal offering information about services in fields such as childcare and eldercare, webinars to improve knowledge, understanding and confidence and a specific resource for working dads.

Centrica believes that the success of its family-friendly culture is evidenced in financial returns. The business claims potential annual benefits in the region of £2.5 million savings in retention and £4.5 million from reduced staff absences as a direct result of this approach.

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