Why Deloitte is a carer-friendly employer

Carer wheelchairDeloitte is well-known for being a flexible employer, with a well-established ‘agile working’ focus and a range of working patterns in place. And this agile culture is at the heart of the way that they support carers. As Clare Rowe, the firm’s Culture and Inclusion Lead, explains:

“We know that people have a range of interests and responsibilities outside of work. We don’t want to let that affect their ability to develop their careers with us, or to miss out on talented people. So we focus on ensuring that everyone is able to work in a way that balances the different parts of their lives.”

The firm has recently introduced annualised days contracts, in which people can choose to work a reduced number of days across the year, scheduled to suit both the individual and the business (such as term-time only). That’s in addition to other formal agile working options such as working part-time or its Time Out scheme, all of which are helpful for carers.

INFORMAL ARRANGEMENTS THAT RESPOND TO PEOPLE’S NEEDS

But just as valuable, Clare believes, is the way the firm embraces more informal arrangements. “Our agile working approach enables employees to flex their working week on an ad-hoc basis; to work from home or another office if they need to, or come in later or leave earlier. We know this is something that our carers find really useful; all we ask is that it works for both the individual and the business.”

And the role of the line manager is important here. “We’ve invested time in upskilling our team leaders so that they know how to respond to both formal and informal agile working requests. We’re making it an integral part of what it means to be a good leader. The result is that carers know that they can have a conversation about needing formal or informal agile working, and that we will do what we can to make it happen.”

AN APPROACH TO FLEXIBILITY THAT’S BUILT ON TRUST

Of course, it’s not all one way; the firm expects its employees to perform their roles to the best of their ability. But critically, there is an understanding that they can be trusted to do so. “We’ve built our expectations around outputs, not inputs, and we trust our staff to deliver. How and when they choose to do so is up to them; they know that their need for flexibility won’t count against them.”

One member of the Deloitte team who knows just how true this is, is Rohit Sagar, a director at Deloitte. Rohit describes himself as a ‘sandwich carer’, who balances his professional responsibilities with caring for his elderly father and his six year old son. And he is unequivocal about the value of the support he has been given.

“When I first spoke to my partners about caring for my father, their immediate response was ‘What can we do to support you?’ They were genuinely keen to find a solution that would work for me on a personal level, rather than simply following company policy. And they have made it clear that they trust me to make it work on an informal basis, which is incredibly helpful.

“As a result, I am in control of how, when and where I work, which allows me to take my son to school, take my father to his hospital appointments or deal with unexpected events. I make sure I spend some time in London with my team, but I can also work from various Deloitte offices or home if I need to be more local. I just do whatever is required to make the week run smoothly.

“But equally importantly, I can do so without feeling guilty. I know that I have the support of my partners, and that they are looking out for me as an individual. They regularly check in to see how I am doing in terms of my own wellbeing, and there is a lot of support in place to back me up.”

PRACTICAL HELP WITHIN A CARER-FRIENDLY CULTURE

Indeed, the practical help available to carers at Deloitte, above and beyond agile working, is extensive. As well as providing a Working Families network that allows carers to share experiences with their peers, the firm offers benefits such as paying for five sessions of emergency back-up care a year, and part-funding five more. It also has carer-specific counsellors working on its external advice line, a 24/7 employee assistance programme that covers everything from mental health and medical issues to legal and financial advice.

All of which contributes to an environment which allows people to be open about being a carer. As Rohit explains: “I know that no one is judging me for having other responsibilities. On the contrary, the culture of the firm makes it possible for me to be honest, and even a bit proud, about taking care of my family. I’d advise any carers who are seeking work not to be shy about it; I’ve found people respect me for my honesty, and recognise the positive elements it demonstrates about my character and attitudes.”

And Clare agrees: “It’s important that we can all bring our whole selves to work and that applies as much to carers as it does to everyone else. If you’re looking for a job, it’s definitely worth assessing how carer-friendly a potential employer is. At Deloitte, we carefully consider agile ways of working, both formal and informal, that allow for the best impact for our people and our clients. We encourage applicants to talk to us about their working pattern requirements and, if the pattern they are looking for is not specifically advertised, we are we are happy to consider alternative arrangements.

“My advice is to have the confidence to be open about your responsibilities outside of work. That way, you’ll not only help create an atmosphere of mutual trust but you’ll also be well-placed to take advantage of any support that’s available.”

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