Flexible and progressive approach to parenting is key for talent
The Parenting Matters policy has recently been rolled out at JLL. This approach is central to our business attracting and retaining some of the best talent.
The decision to begin, or grow, a family is one of life’s major milestones, and our ability as a business to attract and retain some of the very best talent relies on how we support all of our people on their parenting journeys.
Key to creating an environment that offers the right kind of parenting support is recognising and understanding that individual journeys and experiences differ. Any framework must treat all parental leave equally and be inclusive enough to meet diverse needs. Gender neutrality needs to be a key principle that underpins family-orientated policies, while also taking into account that specific situations will require tailored backing, such as surrogacy and fertility treatment.
This approach is central to the Parenting Matters policy that has recently been rolled out at JLL. Through this policy, we now offer six months’ fully paid leave to all new parents who have been working with the business for as little as six months. We recognise that the road to parenthood does not start with the birth of a child, however. This is why our policy offers increased time off to those planning to start a family, with paid absence for antenatal appointments, fertility treatment and egg/sperm freezing.
Additionally, our policy makes specific provision for distressing situations that may unfortunately arise on the parenting journey. We want our people to feel encouraged to take the time they need to plan, and subsequently be with, their families.
Our view is that what happens after a family is started is equally important as what happens before a family is started. Hence, our family-oriented policy framework goes beyond initial parenthood, and covers the subsequent periods of leave that are required to balance work and family life.
The past 15 months have seen work and family dynamics turned upside down. Working from home while homeschooling has led to a previously unknown level of simultaneous juggling of childcare and work responsibilities.
Many colleagues across the industry have also shared their experiences with us of incorporating childcare and homeschooling responsibilities into their working days. While for many there were aspects of this time that they enjoyed and will miss, for others this way of life has been challenging and will be difficult to sustain in the long term.
We are nearing the point when returning to the office will become more possible. A number of businesses know there will be some aspects of lockdown life that their people will want to retain. Making this possible requires a progressive framework and tools for people to use in striking their own balance between family life and work. Organisations that put such frameworks and tools in place can create an optimal environment in which their people can thrive.
Hybrid working provides opportunities for parents to manage caring responsibilities at home and to fulfil their potential at work. Our view is that the best way to support hybrid working at scale is to offer people a flexible approach to work that focuses much more on trust than on rules.
Flexibility empowers colleagues, drives performance and enables trust. Providing it to employees allows those with families to make decisions that work best for them. An environment that fosters such flexible approaches to work will enable greater strides to be made towards achieving gender equality, retainment of people and attracting the best talent.
Ultimately, we recognise that no two personal situations are exactly the same. Hence, enabling our colleagues to choose what works for them, their teams and our clients is our approach to building their confidence in our return-to-work plans.
Kweku Yankson is head of HR at JLL