Becoming Family-Friendly

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In 2011 one of my first tasks at this workplace was to prepare our “Family-Friendly Workplace” tender. We welcomed the chance, and our managers welcomed it as well, as although the notion was not yet common, the practice itself was, and we felt that it has a place and genuineness at our company. I hoped that with the help of the tender we could improve this area further. Seeing the tender data sheet I did not worry, as mainly statistical data and a relatively short professional description was needed. I did not want to leave the success of the tender to chance, so I began to do research in the topic. The result was surprising, and somewhat disappointing at first sight.

Research, writing the tender and weighing our chances

In case of the search words “family-friendly” and “family-friendly workplace” most of the Google results led to the principal of the tender. Sadly, I had to acknowledge that in our little country we could not talk about established traditions of family-friendly workplaces, or, at least nobody boasted about good practice. There was nothing else I could do, I had to head west, mainly towards the USA, where plenty of scientific articles and studies could be found. This helped me greatly in my work.
Checking the statistics of Google Trends in retrospective, the expression “family-friendly” first appeared in the searches in 2007, but not in a significant number (40-60). Since then, this number has approximately doubled.

The content of the notion of being family-friendly, as it became common in Hungary, has been summarized as follows (Source: Ministry of Human Resources):

  • The family represents important value.

  • The task of taking care of the family is mostly considered to be the woman’s task.
  • The family-friendly measures should – according to the employers – support women so that they are able to take care of their families as well as do their work.

At that time (2011) only two women worked at the company. Our Eszter managed (and has done so ever since) the family project at home day by day, and I worked at the company, together with 21 male colleagues those days (the proportion has improved significantly since then, to 3:21 :)) There was no need to begin weighing our chances, seeing that in Hungary the family-friendly workplace policy is mainly associated with supporting mothers with young children, and by decreasing the burdens related to having children. Thus, the aim was no other than to show that the family-friendly policy of the workplace does cross these boundaries. Instead of the two thousand-character professional text, the family-friendly program of the WCS was born, in which, with the contribution of our colleagues, we stated our aims and tasks. Our most important aim was to create a humane and liveable workplace, and to make everybody who works for us feel that their internal balance is as important for us as their professional values and work. We aspired to develop and realize ideas and programs that are able to help the families through the male employees as well, together with strengthening their roles within the family, their role as a parent. This principle was strengthened by the fact that nowadays the opinion on traditional family patterns appears to be transforming, and the role and needs of men concerning playing an important part and sharing burdens in home life is increasing.

We successfully met the challenges and to our great surprise, in 2011 we were awarded with the title “Family-friendly Workplace”. Our success was the result of our imaginative program. During the five months of the tender we organized thematic programs. December was the month of “Family”, January was that of “Well-being, awareness and frugality”, February was centred on “Body and Soul”, March was the month of “Environment” and in April we focused on “Children”, and all programs were organized around these themes.

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Family-consciousness in practice

We kept everything that was a practice or tradition before submitting the tender: celebrating birthdays, our Christmas dinner, flexible work time, keeping in touch with the family members. We created a chill-out room with a play-corner, mobile nappy changing facility, and organized plenty of programs from a cooking club and ice-skating to professional presentations.

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This is how Tamás Vekerdy, the renowned psychologist was invited to us. We did charity activities, and renovated a playground with the Mosolymanó Association, planted trees, and held a WCSB Day, rolled hay bales and Trabant cars with the help our family, children and dogs on the obstacle course. We provided noisy support for the WCS football team. These unforgettable moments leave physical (in the form of blue and green bruises following football matches) and invisible marks on the team. And then, returning to the office, we continue work as a more tightly knit team, with new energy as a result of the shared experiences.

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We even received an audit in 2012 and in 2013 concerning family-consciousness, which brought interesting results. The audit was carried out by the counsellors of the Pro Labora Kft. who have provided us with a lot of good advice concerning out family friendly policy since 2011.
The percentages of the table below show to what level are supportive measures and practices used in the given area to promote the harmony of work and family life, and to what extent we focus on the given area. 100% represents absolutely ideal conditions that can be considered perfect, where several unique measures promote the connection of work and family, while 0% shows that the workplace practices do not take this aspect into consideration.

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What is next?

Encouraged by the results of the survey, this year we have applied again for board games, playstation, sports and cultural programs. The results will be announced in September. Keep your fingers crossed! In a few days we are going to set off to Bonnya, as this year’s WCSB Day will take place at the Somogy Kertje Üdülőfalu resort.

So, something is different, something works in a different way here at our company… I have worked at several workplaces, but I have only seen a few where I was primarily a human and being workforce was secondary. It is hard to express it in just one word. It is family-friendly, if you like. It is humane, accepting, if you like. Weirdly, it takes some time to get used to it. Being “in charge of” the family-friendly project involves a lot of organising and difficulties, but it is also a very rewarding task, I can recommend it to everybody.☺ Finally, we have prepared a video to give You a taste of what family-friendly means for us!


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