Speaking at a Working Families briefing on flexible working, Leigh Lafever-Ayer said Enterprise has a relatively young workforce, “taking people from backpack to briefcase” and largely recruiting managers from within the business.
“We really need to understand the needs of different generations,” she said. “Baby boomers may want to carry on the way it has always been but other generations have different perceptions about why and how you are loyal to companies. There are differences in what people expect and how they’re going to balance their work and life in future.”
Lafever-Ayer said Enterprise has operated ‘alternative work arrangements’ for 15 years, allowing employees to work flexibly in the long or short term, for example to cover changes in childcare or undertake personal study. She added that the company has a ‘phase back’ period of 30 days for people returning from maternity leave or other breaks from work. “It allows them to ease back and we can see how they are doing,” she said.
In addition, in the last year Enterprise has extended the hours 20% of its branches, which has allowed more part-time working. “We’re trying to find more people to do job shares – it is still a journey but has given us the ability to give people different hours and accommodate their schedules,” she said. “We have created home working in the areas we can as a customer-facing business. Many support employees don’t want to take that up but it has allowed us to bring in talent at different stages of life and career.”
Communication is also crucial, said Lafever-Ayer, with Enterprise directors conducting town hall meetings following employee engagement surveys to discuss issues and brainstorm solutions. “How do you engage with your employees using social media? How many of your managers are following employees on twitter? Don’t forget about these types of interaction with your employees,” she said.
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