Case study: Scottish Water.

Scottish Water makes a strong connection between being trusted to care for the water on which Scotland’s people depend and trusting and being trusted by its employees.

It recognises the multi-generational dimension of today’s workforce – caring responsibilities are no longer invisible or limited to young parents. Grandparents in paid work often also provide childcare and elder care typically becomes an issue for many older workers.

Productivity and trust are the cornerstones of the approach to family friendly working at Scottish Water. Policies are backed by the creation of an ‘Agile’ working environment which gives employees permission to work in ways that suit them best. All of this is supported by a leadership development programme relevant to this context. Appreciation of these policies is evident from the 83% of people in the most recent Employee Engagement Survey which described Scottish Water as “committed to their personal wellbeing and resilience.”

Chief among recent developments is the introduction of enhanced pay for Shared Parental Leave which matches maternity provision. The organisation also has well-developed maternity, paternity, family care and Special leave policies. A wellbeing programme and support for volunteering alongside a variety of tailored flexible working arrangements helps all employees, not just parents, to continue to perform well at work while enjoying a balanced life.

10% of the workforce has caring responsibilities. The organisation’s engagement with Carer’s Scotland and its recent achievement of the Carer’s Positive Kitemark offer firm evidence of its commitment to these employees. A virtual network of carers is supported and regularly consulted on the organisation’s Carer policies and on the way these are being implemented. Partnership with local expert organisations includes regular in-house advice surgeries to provide easy access to good quality advice and support. Employees appreciation is clear. As one carer puts it:

“I am very aware of how lucky I am to have such caring managers and employer, hopefully in the future all workers in Scotland will be extended the same level of support.”

Scottish Water also recognises the needs of an ageing workforce. Everyone ends their employment journey one day but not everyone wants to complete that journey in the same way. The organisation actively promotes both flexible and early retirement options. One innovative example is that of a working time reduction for an older employee who wanted to spend more time with grandchildren. This package included linking up with an apprentice to help transfer and therefore retain technical knowledge. This skills transfer through coupling older and newer employees is developing across the business.

Scottish Water’s ‘Agile’ working environment provides employees with the confidence and tools to explore ways of working where, when and how they choose. This approach and the fact that flexible working is enabled wherever possible and fully supported by confident leaders equipped with the skills required to build resilience and trust within their teams makes Scottish Water stand out in the field of family friendly working.