The value of a great, flexible employer
Joel McKee knows more than most how important it is to have a flexible employer. A long-standing employee of Lloyds Banking Group, he took advantage of the firm’s flexible working policy when his first child was born. And when his wife became ill, four years ago, his ability to work flexibly became a lifeline. Here’s his story.
“I joined the Group in 1999, as a debt collector, and have progressed swiftly in the intervening years. I’m now Head of Credit Operations MI and Planning, as part of the Group Services Chief Operating Office, a role I’ve been doing for the last nine years.
“I first explored the option of working flexibly in 2004, when my eldest son was born. I really didn’t want to just see him at the weekends, and was keen to support my wife with looking after him, so I negotiated a compressed week, working 35 hours across four days. It was a great experience, for all of us. And even when I went back up to a traditional five-day week, my managers made it clear that I could work remotely for as much of the time as I needed.”
However, everything changed for Joel and his family when his wife became seriously ill.
“Laura has been suffering from a debilitating and rare brain condition since 2014, and is mainly bedbound. So I’m her main carer, as well as being responsible for our two boys, who are 12 and 14. That’s only possible because of the support that Lloyds Banking Group have given me.
“I can now work completely from home if I need to, which means when my wife’s condition is particularly challenging, I am then on hand to help my wife with her day-to-day needs. All the remote-working technology is in place, so I’m able to carry out my role just as effectively as I would if I was office-based.”
But, just as importantly, the flexible culture of the firm means that my work pattern is completely accepted, and seen as a solution, not a problem. I’m trusted to get the job done, given all the support I need, and confident that my career progression isn’t being limited by my personal circumstances.”
Having had such a positive experience of managing his career and caring responsibilities, Joel is keen to share his story to support and inspire others who find themselves in a similar situation. He now co-chairs Lloyds Banking Group’s Family Matters Network for parents and carers, which has 9,000 members. As he explains:
“I’m so proud to work for an organisation that is committed to helping its employees balance the demands of being a working carer. And I’m determined to use my role co-chairing this network to help others feel confident that they can manage their responsibilities whilst enjoying a challenging, fulfilling career.
“My advice to anyone in my situation is, don’t assume that you can’t be a carer with a career. Be honest about what you need, be clear about what you can offer, and go for it. The right employer will support you all the way.”
Joel McKee is Head of Credit Operations MI & Planning at Lloyds Banking Group