At GPT we want to support our people to successfully integrate and thrive in all aspects of their lives. After all, each of us has a complex and unique set of circumstances to manage alongside our work (whether that’s parenting, other caring responsibilities or other commitments to things that are important to us) and ensuring we trust and empower our people to determine the best way of working for them, their team and their families characterises our approach. Flexibility is at the heart of this and has proven more important than ever, as the COVID pandemic saw us blending our work and home lives more extensively than ever before. We see being a family friendly workplace as non-negotiable; it’s critical to our people and their wellbeing, and that makes it critical to our business.
We have looked at how we can best support our people in a very holistic and inclusive way. There are a combination of things we have in place and will continue to evolve to ensure the diverse needs of our working parents and carers can be met. These have included (but are not limited to):
As an example, our Parental Leave Policy and associated support currently provides for the following:
Our people take the opportunity to share both anecdotal and structured feedback on how they value the inclusive and holistic approach GPT takes to support them in managing their work and personal lives. Our approach to Flexibility in particular has been well received, with 85% of people reporting that they have the flexibility they need to manage work and other commitments in our last engagement survey (June 2021).
With respect to our working parents, we have been delighted to report a post parental leave return to work rate of 96% in the last 2 years, and have also seen an uplift in the number of working fathers taking more meaningful periods of parental leave in this time. Our new parents are particularly grateful for the Childcare Allowance we offer to help mitigate the steep cost of childcare, and the parent coaching (for both new parents and their managers) has been enormously popular and successful as articulated below by one participant in our Working Fathers’ Program:
“The working Father program at GPT was so valuable; it showed me that there are people within the business that I can call on for a chat about “Dad life” as they are going through similar things. The program gave me the tools to stay present at home and to find ways to share the mental load with my partner. It also equipped me to not feel worried about leaving early or arriving later at work due to childcare commitments; I feel GPT genuinely understands that we all have lives in and out of work. After my experience with the program I have recommended it to all of my colleagues that have kids.”
For people to thrive in the workplace and do their best work they also need to be able to manage their other life priorities, which very often include family and caring commitments. When an employer offers encouragement, support and resources to enable this it’s of enormous benefit to both the organisation and the employee. We see this through our engagement survey outcomes and through the positive commentary we receive on our family friendly practices. We know this is positively impacting our engagement, retention and even our ability to attract new talent. It makes absolute sense to make ‘walking the talk’ as a family friendly employer a core part of our employee value proposition.
Steve and Emma’s Story
Steve is GPT’s National Director of Office Leasing. His partner, Emma, also works for GPT as a General Manager in the Legal team. Given both have busy roles and a home life that includes 4 children, we thought Steve was a great person to chat to about how he and his family have been supported through GPT’s approach to supporting working parents.
Steve and Emma have had 2 children together while they have both been at GPT, Harry (6) and Sophie (2). Two teenagers in Maddie (17) and Ollie (14) complete the family. Emma took 12 months parental leave when Harry was born, and 18 months with Sophie. When Emma was returning to work after her primary carer leave with Sophie, Steve then opted to take 16 weeks primary carers’ leave to enjoy some time with his young daughter and to facilitate an easier transition for Emma back into her role. As it transpired, Steve’s leave could not have been better timed; it also coincided with COVID-19 lockdowns so proved invaluable with all 4 children at home, 3 of whom were home-schooling.
It might not have been the parental leave period he could have anticipated but Steve reflects that it was, “Highly satisfying to be able to spend that time with all my kids and I think I became closer to each of them. Maddie (my eldest) in particular commented that I was more engaged and listened more without the distraction of work.”
Since returning to work himself earlier this year, Steve has worked in a highly flexible and hybrid way (as does Emma). In combining working from home with time in the office in a way that suits them, they are able to manage the juggle of their respective work roles and shared home life.
“The independence we have to undertake our roles while raising children has been a game changer in terms of handling the stress of making everything work,” says Steve. He also mentions that the generous Childcare Allowance offered by GPT is a fantastic additional financial benefit at just the time it’s needed; taking some of the stress out of the considerable costs of childcare when parents return to work. Lastly, Steve also reflects on the benefits to the business of the highly supportive and flexible approach GPT takes to supporting working parents. “The developmental opportunity for others to step up into aspects of my role while I was on parental leave was a win for everyone,” he says. “It showed me and others in the team what they could do. Its meant there are things I haven’t needed to be pulled into since my return and I think we’re all working even more effectively now.”