Working Families award winners: Deloitte


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Deloitte was a joint winner of The DTCC Best for Innovation award at the 2015 Working Families' Top Employers for Working Families Special Awards. This case study explains its winning strategy.

People are only human and so sometimes just need “time out” from work says Emma Codd, managing partner for talent at Deloitte. An obvious enough statement in itself, but actually something businesses often lose sight of.

To ensure Deloitte never does, and that it reaps the employee engagement benefits, the firm launched its Time Out initiative last summer. As part of its Work Agility strategy the company already offered people extended parental leave, career breaks and flexible working. But Time Out is about providing all employees with an extra four-week block as “a meaningful period of time away from the business and checking emails”, says Codd. This block is unpaid but with continued benefits allowances.

It was crucial that this was offered in a “non-judgemental way”, with employees discouraged from providing reasons for their requests. “Stigma was a danger at the start so we had to have the CEO communicating this. We made it very clear that one throwaway comment in the corridor could destroy the value of this,” explains Codd, adding that the scheme has also been promoted through online chats and an #AgileMe campaign identifying role models.

Codd reports: “We’ve had no issues. People are very proud to have those employees in their team as it shows they are a good manager.” She adds though that slow take-up to begin with showed how carefully such initiatives must be introduced. “When we first launched this we thought the floodgates would open but they didn’t. It took a few months because people were waiting to see how colleagues would be treated,” she says.

Deloitte also has to ensure Time Outs are planned for ?convenient moments. But Codd says this is no different to when people take three weeks out. “It just requires proper planning, ?the same as people working reduced hours on a project for example,” she points out, adding: “We have only had six cases where there’s been negotiation around a different time; they’ve mostly worked beautifully.”

The results have been overwhelmingly positive, says Codd. Two hundred people, from all parts of the business and at all levels, have requested a Time Out, and agile working was the most improved item in 2014’s employee engagement survey.

“People who have done one of these return absolutely revitalised. I love working with those employees because they come back with new ideas and a completely fresh approach,” says Codd. “Some people have said they’re going to take one every year.”

She adds: “Staff have said ‘I may never take a Time Out but it’s the option that’s nice to have.’”

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