Northern Trust has offered staff the opportunity to work flexibly for some time, but a review of its engagement policy resulted in the employer identifying a lack of emergency childcare in its benefits package.
Cara Collins, senior employee relations consultant at Northern Trust, says: “We looked at paying for a place at the nursery downstairs [in the organisation’s office building], but we did not think that was a good option because only one employee can benefit at any one time, and they also then have to bring their children into Canary Wharf. So we looked at other types of providers and decided that staff having access to a nursery near [their home] or having someone come to [their] house was better.”
The employer funds six sessions per employee per year through My Family Care. This can include emergency childcare, school holiday cover and elder and adult care.
Collins says: “We want to do what we can to help families, but families are made up in all sorts of different ways.”
She adds that the six sessions per employee offer incredibly good value to the organisation, with the management fee and actual usage cost working out to approximately £20 per head.
The service helped Northern Trust to win the Best Work-Life Balance Strategy award at the Employee Benefits Awards 2014 and to build a workforce that is 51% female, five times higher than the finance industry average.
“It is always good to feel like we are being recognised and what we are doing is the way forward, but we have to look at the next generation coming through,” she says. ”They are not looking at sitting at a desk nine to five, so our approach now is for hot-desking and for staff to spend a certain number of days in the office and a certain number of days at home.”