Omnitel (Lithuania): "Creating a family friendly work environment in the company"
Number of Employees: 660
Turnover: LTL 555 million (approx. EUR 158 million)
|Creating a family friendly work environment in the company|
Start of activities:
End of activities:
|EU-funded activities (i.e. trainings, consultations): 2012
Company-funded activities (i.e. mobile working, wellbeing for families, etc.): to be continued
Omnitel supplies mobile communications in Lithuania. The company employed 580 staff members in 2012, and had a turnover of about LTL 555 million (approx. EUR 158 million) in 2011. In 2009 it launched a programme to create a family friendly work environment.
Positioning Omnitel as an attractive workplace with regard to work-life balance and family friendly culture.
Group of employees in focus
Omnitel is targeting all employees.
In 2007, Omnitel employed 660 staff members with an average age of 34 years. A survey showed that many felt a strong need for a better balance between work and their personal lives.
A dialogue with the employees highlighted the request for flexible working hours and work places in order to better meet family obligations. Furthermore, employees pointed out the need to raise acceptance for fathers taking one month of parental leave. The same applied to the one day a month of leave legally provided for parents with two or more children under the age of 12.
Omnitel aims at attracting and retaining employees by establishing a healthy work-life balance as one part of the foundation for the organisational culture within the company.
Omnitel identified three fields of action to implement the project:
Getting management on board
First, the focus was on getting management on board. After gaining the support of the top management, Omnitel's middle management was introduced to work-life balance problems and presented the business case of existing best practices. Once the managers were sensitised and informed about the company policy, Omnitel introduced the programme and activities. The company instituted a programme of regular talks with all management to monitor progress and address emerging challenges.
Fostering work-life balance measures
The company has introduced a variety of measures to foster work-life balance and a family friendly culture. As positive recognition of the importance of family, employees receive a gift from the company on the birth of a child. Death grants are paid to staff losing a family member.
Omnitel actively spreads information about maternity and paternity leave.
Once a year, the company releases their employees to attend first-day-at-school events with their children. The company also encourages “job-shadowing″ days for employees′ children to learn more about their parents′ work and their favorite specialties.
The programme is rounded off with mobile work place initiative and flexible working hours as well as internal trainings and personal consultations on work-life balance for employees.
Communicating all activities
The company developed a tradition of an active dialogue with employees to discuss internal survey results and define activities for improvement. In the intranet, the staff is provided with full information about the project and educational material.
Furthermore, Omnitel communicates its best practice in all Lithuanian social media. Omnitel′s employees are spreading best practice to their families and friends - in this way it is spread throughout the country.
Externally, Omnitel shows its social commitment together with the organization "Save the Children Lithuania", targeting both employed and unemployed parents actively looking for work and keeping their work places. Parents are supported with childcare, e.g. through the creation of new groups in childcare centers and education of childcare center teachers. Unemployed parents are provided with training, such as computer literacy courses and development of social skills, to help them find a job.
The project has had a major impact on national working practices and female leadership within the company.
By initiating mobile working places, Omnitel led the way to make this form of organizing work legally allowed in Lithuania and encouraged other companies to follow their example. Similarly, Omnitel spearheaded a national law allowing each employee a day off on the first day back to school (September 1).
Whereas before only 50% of fathers exercised the right to take one month parental leave, Omnitel could increase this rate up to 100%. In addition, the exercise of the legally allowed monthly free day (for parents with two or more children younger than 12 years) could be increased from 0 to approx. 8-10% of all employees.
The percentage of female managers has increased from 32% in 2007 to 41% in 2009 and to 48% 2012. In the recent survey, the evaluation of sufficient work-life balance increased from 58% in 2009 to 63% in 2012. Also, 90% of all employees are saying that mobile working places help them to achieve their work-life balance.
Challenges encountered during the project
The first steps towards work-life balance are considered to be the most difficult. During the initial phase, the costs might exceed the benefits and the long-lasting effects are underrated.
Another challenge involved Omnitel’s communications efforts: Convincing all employees – especially management – of the benefits of a healthy work-life balance was demanding since this topic has not been in the company's and country′s focus before.
It is essential, first of all, to get top and then middle management on board.
Subsequently, all employees need to be involved to serve as multipliers spreading the culture of a healthy work-life balance throughout the company. These role models help to create a “Begin with yourself” spirit.
Finally, maintaining constant contact with employees and seeking feedback is key to knowing whether the measures offered by a company are having the desired effect.
At the National Awards for Socially Responsible Businesses, Omnitel Lithuania was recognised as a Socially Responsible Company 2008 and Workplace of the Year 2008 (awarded in March 2009).
According to a survey conducted by the newspaper “Business News” and by the career website www.cv.lt, Omnitel was ranked third (2011) respectively fourth (2012) among the “Most desirable Employers”.
"If we take meritocracy seriously, we cannot neglect female talent. However, young women need encouragement and support to be ready to enter even the highest echelons of management. It's not a women's issue. The whole of society benefits from the balanced position."
Dr. Beáta Nagy, Associate Professor, Institute of Sociology and Social Policy at the Corvinus University of Budapest (Hungary)
Advocates of the initiative give their opinion: Read here, why it pays off to promote gender equality in business and tap the female talent pool more effectively.