Providing support for working parents while maintaining operational efficiency can be particularly challenging for employers with small teams. Bolton-based marketing agency The Audit Lab understands this particularly well, because it employs nine people, four of whom have young children.
Sometimes, the secret to creating the right culture is trial and error, says Claire Crompton, director at The Audit Lab. “Allowing flexibility for staff while ensuring we meet client demands isn’t easy,” she explains. “We’ve run multiple pilots as we’ve grown to iron out any issues and streamline the processes so that both the business and employees benefit.
“As a growing company, we can’t offer everything at once, therefore, we’ve prioritised employee needs and requirements based on conversations with them.”
One of the benefits that has been implemented as a result of this process is a workplace nursery scheme, which was rolled out in July 2019. This helps some of The Audit Lab’s staff with childcare affordability.
However, it is not just about providing monetary assistance. The Audit Lab creates a culture of care by ensuring that employees can structure their work around their lives, rather than the other way around.
The organisation’s working hours are from 10am until 4pm, allowing time for parents to drop children off at school before starting work. With a core ‘meeting hours’ structure spanning from 11am until 3pm, and a flexible approach outside of this, working parents can ensure they are always available for client meetings and important strategy sessions, without their childcare needs being disrupted.
“If a parent wanted to start and finish earlier in order to avoid paying after school care fees, then this is something we work with,” says Crompton.
While this allows staff to plan and structure their working days in a way that works best for them, the organisation also understands that life does not always go to plan. Employees are, therefore, also able to work from home at short notice if they feel it is necessary.
Crompton says: “We do ask the team to plan ahead and book it in their diaries at least a week in advance, however we appreciate last-minute things crop up, especially with children, and therefore allow work-from-home days to happen when needed.”