Realising the need to retain top talent while allowing their employees to fit in their family life, many companies around the world are now becoming more understanding and willing to accommodate working parents. In the United States, tech companies such as Adobe, Cisco Systems, Microsoft and NVIDIA are leading the way in creating a more inclusive workplace for parents by introducing flexible working arrangements, along with facilities such as dedicated and more comfortable lactation rooms, onsite daycare centres and even therapists.
Closer to home, business and technology consulting firm Accenture, a global company with more than 459,000 employees in 120 countries, offers alternative work options for its staff. The Malaysian division, which has offices in Kuala Lumpur, Kuching and Petaling Jaya, is in sync with their headquarters as an equal opportunity employer.
Says Nicole Lee, who is Accenture Malaysia’s Director, Technology Service Delivery Lead: “Accenture does not discriminate against gender when it comes to flexible work arrangements. We have found that whether it is women – in their roles as mothers, daughters, etc – or men – as fathers, sons, etc – both play an equally important part in society.”
Explaining the company’s policy, Nicole says, “Where technology creates round-the-clock ‘connectedness’, we see the need to help our people ‘disconnect’ and be who they are fully – not just at work, but also outside of it. That means freeing our people to be the best mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, etc.”
One way that Accenture tries to meet this need is by helping employees manage time between work and off-work hours. The company offers flexible work arrangements for different needs. These include part-time work, telecommuting or work-from-home arrangements as well as flexible client-site work arrangements.
For part-time arrangements, employees work fewer hours per day or fewer days per week with a reduced workload that corresponds to the respective working hours. Employees are also allowed to work from a location other than an Accenture office or project site. “This can reduce the time, costs and stress of commuting for employees while helping Accenture control and often reduce the cost of fixed office space,” says Nicole.
Meanwhile, employees are also able to make flexible work and travel arrangements when they need to work in a location away from their home so that they can at least spend a full weekend with their families. This is in line with an initiative started by TalentCorp, the national agency that works to attract, nurture and retain workforce talents that will contribute either directly or indirectly towards nation-building. With an eye on helping Malaysia transition to a knowledge- and innovation-based high-income economy as per the Eleventh Malaysia Plan and Vision 2020, the agency released a report along with recommendations for employers to provide flexible working arrangements.