Northern Trust supports employees’ work-life balance

Northern Trust, which has 1,400 employees in the UK and a workforce that is 35% female, introduced a range of work-life balance initiatives in 2012 with a view to increase flexible working, raise its return-to-work ratio among working mothers, and improve employee engagement and productivity.


The firm’s WorkSmart programme, which enables eligible staff to take up flexible-working arrangements, offered participants, their managers and extended teams training on how to work remotely and effectively.

Jessamy McGregor, associate consultant, diversity and inclusion at Northern Trust, says: “We asked ‘why not?’ rather than ‘why?’ when considering flexible-working requests.

“We consider all requests equally and have offered flexible working to 120 employees under the WorkSmart programme, in addition to standard flexible-working requests.”

The programme requires employees to work at home one day a week and in the office one day a week, and then the team agrees mutually convenient working arrangements for the remaining days.

“Staff enjoy the fact that they are empowered to better manage their workload, working in environments where they feel more productive and engaged,” says McGregor. “There is also a significant financial and physical benefit of spending less time commuting and less on the cost of travel.”

In 2012, Northern Trust also introduced access to My Family Care’s website, Work+Family Space, which offers webinars and guides about work-life balance.

The initiatives have proved a success for Northern Trust. In its 2013 employee engagement survey, 75% of respondents felt they had sufficient flexibility to meet personal and family needs. Also last year, 86% of mothers returned to work following maternity leave.

Northern Trust won the award for ‘Best work-life balance strategy’ at the Employee Benefits Awards 2014.