iCrossing, Finalist 2015, The Cityfathers Best for all Stages of Fatherhood Award
iCrossing has demonstrated its totally flexible approach to achieving balance between work and home life through the way it considers fathers. This approach is based on a well-considered and well-executed business case: the company is aware that, in the digital industry, demand is high for the most talented experts and tenure can be short. It is in competition with other businesses to hire the best. As a result, one of its HR objectives has been to focus on retaining and attracting digital staff with several years of experience; typically this means focusing on policies that will appeal to those in their 30s. People in this age bracket are likely to have a young family or be thinking about starting a family.
As well as laying the groundwork for excellence in benefits for fathers (two weeks’ paid paternity leave which can be split), this year iCrossing has introduced a new initiative called ‘Together Time’, which aims to promote a culture of flexible working for everyone with caring duties, regardless of whether they work part- or full-time. Together Time allows staff to take two hours out of their day for caring duties without having to use annual leave. Examples where this might apply include going to see their child’s nativity play, going to a school assembly in the middle of the day or taking an elderly relative to the doctor’s. By launching Together Time, iCrossing hopes to engender a culture where their staff openly balance home and work life and celebrate family life at work. This flexibility underlines iCrossing’s trusting, adult relationship with employees and reassures staff that the organisation knows they will get their work done and manage their own time.
iCrossing knows that there are occasions where parents get stuck. Often it is the mother who is expected to take time off and be at home, but iCrossing is flexible about staff bringing children into the workplace when usual childcare arrangements fail. One dad looked after his young baby while working at his desk recently. This allowed his wife to go to a doctor’s appointment. Although not a permanent solution to childcare, on an ad hoc basis, kids are welcome in the workplace if it helps staff to manage their time.
iCrossing also offers staff a mentoring scheme. iFamily (originally called iParent but renamed in the hope that it could also support carers) matches new dads or dads-to-be with seasoned parents who can guide them through their re-entry into the workplace after having a baby or adopting a child. Uptake is good, and 50% of the mentors are dads – which only serves to highlight how embedded the belief has become that caring for children is not purely a female issue at iCrossing.
iCrossing has made a point of understanding who their fathers are and examining their career paths: 50% of their senior management team are dads, as are 80% of their executive team. This includes the Chief Technology Officer who, on average, works two days a week from home. He adjusts his working week to fit the differing levels of demand on his time from family life. For example, during school half-term he works every day from home so he can help with childcare. He is very clear about the benefits that this gives to him: “It gives me three hours of my day back to spend with my family or get useful stuff done. My sense of wellbeing is enhanced by the trust that I am shown and can confer on the rest of the team.”