Three years ago, Caltex Australia launched its Babycare package – and the resultant increase in staff retention is paying dividends, with the leading fuel supplier seeing a 25% increase in the number of women successfully transitioning back to work.
Caltex launched its BabyCare package in 2012 in response to a common trend of female employees who found that the practical and financial challenges when transitioning back to work made it too hard to achieve their goal of balancing their careers and family.
Caltex Head of Capability, Performance and Reward Alena Mackie said the initiative – which includes a 3% quarterly bonus (12% total per annum) and practical assistance with finding appropriate childcare – had helped boost the number of female employees returning to the workplace after having a child.
We caught up with Alena for some insights into the program.
Q) Your Babycare package has had impressive results. What prompted you to introduce the initiative to begin with?
A) Caltex has long been a major Australian employer. However, several of our female employees were choosing not to return to work after having a child as financial and practical obstacles were too hard for them. These challenges were well-documented across Australian business in 2012 and are still being faced by many companies today. We needed to find ways to enable our female employees to overcome some of these challenges. BabyCare is part of a holistic approach providing both financial benefits as well as practical support.
Q) Childcare is a big issue for many primary carers – what assistance do you offer in helping to find an appropriate place?
A) Caltex provides a specialist service that assists working parents to identify longer-term childcare solutions for their baby. This support comes from a third party provider, which has the skills and expertise to help in this area. Caltex pays for this service. The practical assistance also includes access to Dial-an-Angel mothercraft nurses or carers. This service is available for up to five times each year until the child turns two and is for times when working parents need childcare at short notice.
Q) Retaining loyal and committed staff is a goal for any business – has Caltex’s investment in retaining primary carers resulted in a financial win/win for the business and parents?
A) Yes. The initiative pays for itself in terms of increased loyalty and higher productivity.
For employees, this support helps women to achieve their career goals and minimise the period of hiatus in career progression. Having children often happens at a time of life when careers are just beginning to take off. We aim to help people get back into that phase of their careers by making it a little easier to balance things. For some employees, this can allow them to return to work faster if they want to. It also means providing greater flexibility in working hours when they do return, which can help with work/life balance.
There are also clearly some benefits to Caltex. We want to attract and retain highly-skilled employees, so the BabyCare package supports this goal. We’ve seen a 25% improvement in female employees returning to work (from ~80% in 2010 and 2011 to 100% in 2015). We’ve also found that the number of women being retained is higher too. We’re getting our new mothers back to work when it suits them and they are choosing to stay with us as they continue their careers.
Ultimately, the flow-on benefits are around increased staff loyalty and morale, reduced absenteeism and reduced costs from having to recruit and train new employees. There is also a productivity benefit too.
In early November the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) announced the list of 2015 WGEA Employer of Choice for Gender Equality (EOCGE) citation holders; Caltex is among them.