Here at SThree, we understand how important it is to have a work/life balance. It should never be a case of choosing between starting or growing your family and taking your career to the next level. That’s why we offer flexibility and related maternity support when returning to work.
We spoke to Mhari-Claire Doolan and Liz Neidhardt, Associate Business Managers for SThree brand Progressive Recruitment in Manchester, to find out more about the flexibility available to them as working mothers.
“To be honest, I think SThree is incredibly flexible” says Mhari-Claire – something Liz agrees with, going on to say “There’s no way I could work somewhere that didn’t offer flexibility. Progressive have been very accommodating – they understand that people have commitments outside of work too."
Finding a working solution together
While Mhari-Claire and Liz were on maternity leave, a number of major changes took place within the company. This saw them both returning to a new team – and, in Liz’s case, a new brand, too.
In order to help them both get the most out of their role and feel more comfortable with their return, the decision was made to create a job share. Now they both work Monday to Thursday, working together to cover the role.
Speaking of the job share, Liz says “It’s been a game-changer for me. It really works – I can focus my assets on what I’m good at and Mhari-Claire can focus on what she’s good at.” This is a sentiment Mhari-Claire shares, “I can focus on my strengths and do the things I really enjoy, and having the roles and responsibilities outlined in the job share is great. We have regular meetings to make sure we’re doing what we need to."
Flexibility throughout SThree
In many ways, it’s this flexibility to work reduced hours that appealed to both mothers. “I had a bit of a wobble when I came back from maternity”, explains Mhari-Claire. “There was a new director, a new manager, and people had left; it didn’t feel the same. One of the key factors in staying with SThree was that my manager is so flexible – which is important when you’ve got a child.”
And working reduced hours hasn’t impacted the quality of their work either. As Liz explains, “I’m probably more productive now than when I worked five days a week, because I know I have a limited amount of time in the office. I have to be strict with planning.”
Similarly, Mhari-Claire says she’s always been really focussed but now, thanks to working four days a week, she’s more efficient. “I prioritise things a lot more. I’m also much better at delegating, which is better for the team and business.”
Advice for parents seeking flexibility
So, what advice would they give parents seeking flexibility when returning to work? "The business will probably be a lot more flexible and supportive than you anticipate. Just be straightforward and direct about it. Speak to people and find out what’s available to you. And remember that while the business is flexing for you, there might be times when you need to be flexible for them”, says Mhari-Claire.
Liz went on to say “I wasn’t sure if reduced hours was an option so I discussed it with HR. I got an idea of what has worked successfully for others in the past and received advice on how to tailor my proposal to that.” As she explains, “Even though I have reduced hours, I’ve never felt like my career progression has lessened. I’m still on the same career path as before.”
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