We all know the statistics about the proportion of Australian women in senior management, executive and board positions are still depressing. If you’re a working parent of a daughter like I am, you do wonder whether our steps to seniority – which EOWA described as slower than “glacial” a few years ago, will ever speed up.

There are lots of reasons for stalled progress, including the ongoing difficulty many families face with finding reliable childcare. So without companies coming on board and offering flexible work options for both parents, it’s hard to see that pace to the peak quicken without quotas, and our daughters making it more easily to the top, than we have.

Flexibility is not just about offering part-time roles to working parents. It’s about creating satisfying roles that work for the team member, and the business – then marketing these roles to attract the type of people who see the opportunity and say “ah ha, that’s perfect for me – what do I need to do to make it work as well.” On top of that, there are issues around attaching and engaging part time team members, who can typically feel “accommodated,” or even worse – neglected.

Some companies have actually come up with some inspiring and well thought out innovations. We’d like you to meet Olive Taylor HR Manager from Bausch + Lomb. They’ve just introduced a flexible hiring concept which they’ve cleverly called “Bell2Bell/Term2Term” roles. We sent Karalyn to interview Olive to find out more:

KB: How do these roles actually work?

OT: We recently advertised direct sales roles from school bell to school bell – 9.30am to 2.30pm. Essentially so parents can drop children off and pick them up again. We divided sales territories up, to make it so nobody works more than 40 minutes from their first sales call. The roles are for term-time for 40 weeks of the year, hence eliminating the need for childcare during school holidays.

KB: Why did you introduce these roles?

OT: It was partly driven by a business decision. We had a broker team before, which was working well, however we were introducing new products and really saw the benefits of having direct sales team. Our cost-benefit model showed this as a way to differentiate ourselves in the market.

The roles are working with pharmacies. In a practical sense, there tend to be more females in this field. So for our Bell2Bell roles we wanted to tap into the pool of women who had left the workforce because it did not accommodate family needs and who wanted interesting roles.

It’s a totally new concept for us. We have always put our weight behind work life balance, but actions speak louder than words. We advertised these roles internally also, so we were able to attract back two previous employees.

KB: These are part time and out of office roles. It’s easy for people to feel overlooked. How do you integrate these into the workplace so your team feel attached and engaged?

OT: These roles receive the same terms, conditions and benefits as full time roles. We value productivity, not hours.  In onboarding we brought everyone together for induction up front in Sydney. We did need to stress that this was a one-off, for the team who may have worried that this was going to be an ongoing requirement.

KB: With the demand for these types of roles being enormous, how did you manage the recruitment?

OT: We had hundreds of applications. We were stringent in the recruitment requirements and picked people who had direct sales experience. As we made the commitment to not be 40 minutes from the first sales call, geography became a criterion.

Eye care is not the sexiest of products. We decided to take a professional approach and stressed the role was about training the pharmacy assistants, not just about making the product pretty. People we took on needed the capacity to across the technical aspects of the product.

KB: What have been the benefits of doing this?

OT: It’s been really rewarding personally for so many working Mums, to be able to offer them professional roles more in line with their ability and experience. Plus they can collect kids and not be challenged by school holidays.

We’ve seen an amazing appreciation, and we think the ROI will triple because of this effort. We now get lots of referrals. If we do decide to expand team, we don’t think we will have to pay recruitment fees. We will have a database of people readily available.

So the demand is clearly there in the market. And Bausch + Lomb have taken steps that work for the talent pool and work for their company. As more pioneers and prove that it works, hopefully more companies will follow.

From an attachment perspective we often hear of issues around people working part-time feeling less attached due to timing and logistics, so front-loading the on-boarding experience and ensuring the Bell2Bell employees are treated like any other talent, is one way to manage perceptions formed during this stage.

We can put our hands on our hearts and say we’re hugely impressed by this initiative by Bausch + Lomb. In writing this blog we hope to encourage other organisations to look closely at this concept of “Bell2Bell” as a way of securing the enormous talent pool requiring this kind of flexibility.

Congratulations Olive and the Executive team of Bausch + Lomb. We will be keeping an eye on how this initiative unfolds. We would like to encourage other organisations who have innovated and introduced new and creative flexible working initiatives to respond to this blog and share these wonderful initiatives.

Source:  Employee Attachment

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