I am thoroughly convinced that people are a company’s most valuable asset. They are what brings a company to life. That is why in my position, I make sure there is a focus on the employees’ well-being. Especially as we are asking our employees to continually deliver high performance, it is important that we strive towards a better work-life balance. As an HR manager, I try to put myself in the employees’ shoes and come up with creative solutions to allow them to balance work with the rest of their lives.
In the UK, we have introduced a buy-sell arrangement for holidays and also implemented flexible working hours. Some colleagues use the flexible working conditions to take their children to school, to support their local church, or simply avoid the peak traffic. For me personally, it allows me to help my 95-year-old dad to look after my mum who is suffering from dementia. But it also means that I don’t miss out on those special moments with my children, such as school plays and sports days. The fact that the company is willing to meet the employees halfway shows that Clariant recognizes the longer term benefits of employee well-being. The value of the goodwill that is generated amongst our employees with these initiatives should not be underestimated.
There are many employees now that are part of the »sandwich generation,« looking after both children and aging parents. My situation is not unusual, and for me, that’s what life is all about. It is not always easy, but I love looking after my parents. After all, they looked after me so well, for so many years. I know how important it is though to get some personal respite, and I love spending quality time outdoors with my husband and my two boys. Taking our camper van to the Yorkshire Dales on weekends, discovering new walks, and sitting around the campfire in the evening – it’s often the simple things that allow me to relax and find some inner peace.
Sometimes, it can be a challenge convincing managers that employees do not need to be sitting in the office every day at set times in order to do a great job. With the right IT equipment and some good individual planning, most of us are able to do part of our jobs from home. These different ways of working are not just for parents who need to consider childcare. If we take a closer look at our workforce, we also have employees supporting grandchildren, elderly parents, or sick family members, whilst at the same time, remaining committed to their career and the company.
The profile of our population is changing, and not just at Clariant. As a society, we must be ready to adapt to new ways of living and working, so that we can keep juggling our commitments without sacrificing our well-being.