Ours is a young and emerging workforce, in moving through life we want Built to be the constant. To remain constant, we are striving to embed the adaptability required to create a family friendly workplace. We want to attract and retain a diversity of team members who are encouraged to identify their needs and offer the support to meet those needs.
In a uniquely male dominated industry long held stereotypes of masculinity are giving way to a new mindset that recognises that ‘the breadwinner’ model falls short of truly providing for families. We are working to not only encourage but to normalise fathers taking parental leave. At just 13%, our industry has the smallest percentage of women of any workforce in Australia. Committing to family friendly workplace practices and principles also encourages more talented women into an industry that is constantly requiring more dedicated professionals. While 95% of all people taking primary carers leave in Australia are women, we want the entire Built team to know that being a caregiver does not exclude them from maintaining their career with Built.
Our team members are committed to Built but that should never be to the detriment of their other commitments, and we want to make sure that they know that. With 2.65 million Australian carers Built recognises that families encompass many relationships that include responsibilities that can change unexpectedly over time. In our desire to foster long term staff retention we want to be equipped to absorb the needs of our people if their family circumstances change.
In Australia only half of all male dominated industries offer any form of paid primary carer’s leave. When measured against comparative economies Australia ranks very near the bottom in the number of fathers that take parental leave. In an industry with a workforce of just 13 percent women this creates cultural challenges for both primary and secondary caregivers.
Built are approaching this by offering paid parental leave to to all parents, recognising what a critical time it is for a family in terms of bonding, support and the emotional energy that is both required and spent. In addition to offering this leave we are working to counter the cultural drivers that discourage many men from taking parental leave, we are building a permission structure to communicate that work responsibilities do not out rank family responsibilities. In addition, the adoption of flexible work practices is allowing Built to be responsive to the individual, care-based needs of team members, allowing us to retain our valued team members.
At Built, we are leaders in innovative design practices like virtual reality walk throughs because we understand that experiences enhance understanding. Our embracing of flexible working practices matches this approach as we provide not only structured support for those planned family events but we also pivot to help employees when they face unexpected personal circumstances.
This was most evident when our Managing Director partnered with a national department leader and their team to implement flexible work practices. The leader tendered their resignation as their son had been accepted into a potentially lifesaving drug trial for a terminal illness that was being facilitated in England over an 18-month period. The Managing Director offered and then deployed a workplan that enabled the leader to work remotely in England whilst also retaining their role at Built.
Similar flexibility was extended to a member of the Commercial team who also needed to relocate to the UK for family reasons. The team member and their director worked on a flexible work practice that enabled the team member to deliver their role whilst also providing opportunities for this team member to progress in their career aspirations.
You could assume being on a different continent is a deal breaker but when you value someone, you make it work as Built continue to do.
A final example of how our flexible work policies are improving our work culture comes from a member of Built’s operational team. As a sole parent with 2 school aged children they attempted to balance care and work for 5 years, relying solely on paid carers. However, this ultimately became untenable, and the team member worked with their leader to determine a flexible work arrangement that enabled them to do school drop offs and pickups whilst also meeting the requirements of their role and still being offered numerous career development opportunities.
As a privately owned Australian business, Built have always had the freedom to be different, be it in the range and scale of the projects that we deliver or in what we determine is the way forward. We have a portfolio of projects that fill us with pride, but it is the team that we have built and continue to grow that we see as our greatest asset. By being a family inclusive organisation, we are able to retain our valued team members and attract new likeminded professionals.
No one should have to conceal or play down important aspects of who they are and that includes their identity as a parent or carer. We bring more to the table when we can bring all of ourselves. This includes valuable insights tinted with empathy and coloured by experience. As client centred builders who work to meet people where they are, this ability to be more of yourself is a strength that supports the creation of robust and transparent relationships.
In a competitive industry there are few greater losses than talent. Retaining valued team members is a priority for Built and being a family inclusive organisation communicates this to the Built team. We want our people to be secure in the knowledge that when life changes emerge, the options are not binary stay/go, rather they are myriad as solutions can be created.
We have high expectations for our people, so it is only fair that those expectations be reciprocal. By encouraging the uptake of parental leave we are signaling to our team that we value and respect them beyond any work-based output. We see them as an individual that belongs to a family. Societal expectation shift across generations, this can be falsely associated with a declining work ethic when really it demonstrates an expansion of the roles that we are permitted to fulfil and a greater appreciation for what we each value in life. Built are designed for change, we want to embrace and encourage these cultural and attitudinal shifts to meet the needs of our teams into the future.
Hugh Ford, Senior Graphic Designer
Recognising that in previous generations dads weren’t always afforded the opportunity or encouraged to take parental leave, Senior Graphic Designer, Hugh Ford was excited to take up Built’s 12-week paid parental leave after the birth of his second son, Andrew.
Having previously worked for himself from home after his first son was born, Hugh knew the benefits and additional support he could provide his family if he was more present during those formative years. After taking three weeks off when Andrew was first born, Hugh took an additional 12 weeks paid leave leave prior to Andrew’s first birthday, a decision fully supported by the business.
One of the biggest drivers for taking leave was the ability to give his son full attention without having to juggle work responsibilities. Becoming the primary carer at home not only ensured the parental load was shared but helped his wife’s transition back to work.
Upon Hugh’s return to work, Built continued their engagement of a contract graphic designer for a couple of weeks to ensure he was able to transition back to work with ease. His need for flexible working arrangements to manage day care drop-off/pick-up has been well supported by his manager and wider Marketing Team.