How 3 Leading Employers Are Paving The Way In Parental Support

d&i strategies managing working parents work life harmony working parents Aug 09, 2016

Reconciling the needs of life at home and work is a challenge for employees all over the world, and more often than not we see companies lagging behind in making the changes necessary to support employees.

However some companies are paving the way in family-oriented initiatives and they deserve recognition. Their policies make it possible for employees to achieve a better balance between their work and personal lives. 

Here we celebrate three companies who actively support the career development of employees who strive for a dynamic balance between private and working life, without needing to forgo an exciting, challenging and responsible occupation.


The Miele Group is based in Germany and managed by a single group of five Executive Directors who all have an equal say. The company, which sells appliances, describes itself as an organisation that stands for fair and amicable relations with its business partners, an employee-centric corporate culture, and the continuity of values, objectives and leadership.

Since 2012, the Miele Family Service has been offered to employees as a comprehensive programme designed to help arrange care for their children and other family members in need of assistance. To provide this support, Miele teamed up with pme Familienservice, a Germany-wide provider of specialist care. The response to the placement, care and counselling services offered (measured in terms of use and feedback) has been extremely positive and continues to improve.

To make it possible for its employees to maintain a harmonious work-life balance while ensuring that its production requirements are met, Miele offers employment models with flexible working hours.

In cooperation with a childcare centre located close to their Gütersloh site, Miele offers eleven daycare places for children under the age of three. Additionally, six Miele plants in Germany provide an emergency childcare service, which can be used if a nanny becomes unavailable or employees are away on a business trip.

Miele has also organised an annual trip to the children's' holiday camp at the Four Seasons Park in Oelde. Children of employees from the town of Oelde and the nearby company sites in Gütersloh and Bielefeld are eligible to participate. The 24 open spots for the camp get fully booked very quickly.

Since mid-2014, employees on parental leave have enjoyed access to selected pages of the Miele intranet so that they can still be a part of events at the company during their time at home. Similar resources exist at the Miele sales subsidiaries in other locations. For example, childcare services are offered in Great Britain, and young mothers and fathers in Hong Kong also have the option of taking paid long-term leave to spend time with their young children.

ABB Group

ABB is a global leader in power and automation technologies with headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland. The company ethos when it comes to Human Resources states that a finely tuned balance between work, leisure and family is one of the recipes for success for motivated and fulfilled employees.

As early as the 1960s, ABB identified the need for company-supported childcare, and later created the ABB Day Nursery Association. ABB day nurseries, the first of which was set up in 1966, enable employees to combine a busy career with a satisfying family life. The ABB Day Nursery Association considers itself an institution that complements the family, making it possible to care for children in close cooperation with parents who share family and work obligations.

Today there are ten day nurseries together with a kindergarten offering all-day care. They employ more than 130 staff, have over 350 available places per day and care for some 550 children. All nurseries are operated on educational principles and offer an environment for healthy everyday childcare. Parents-to-be also enjoy benefits at ABB: mothers receive 16 weeks paid maternity leave.

Yvonne Zickermann (32): An electrical engineer, Yvonne worked in systems engineering at the LBU Power Electronics in Turgi. After her son was born, she was able to fulfill her wish to move over into project management. Working 70 percent of full time, she has overall project responsibility for frequency converter systems.

According to ABB Switzerland, the company has long recognized evolving requirements in the working lives of parents and has created appropriate working models and structures to accommodate the societal change. These include flexible working time models to accommodate the hours that suit the individual. Part-time work and teleworking options can assist employees in striking their own personal balance between profession, family and leisure. I

In particular, employees who need to care for children can arrange with their superior to perform some of their duties at home outside normal working hours. The flexible working time policy at ABB Switzerland also includes the option of taking a sabbatical of up to three years. After a long break of this type, ABB as a rule ensures that the employee can return to a comparable position with at least the same salary as before.


Novartis is the largest healthcare company in Switzerland with approximately 13,000 employees. People from over 100 nations work at the Swiss Novartis sites, making it a truly multicultural working environment.

According to Thomas Boeach, Head of Human Resources Switzerland, “We offer a very attractive, multicultural working environment and allow international careers. Our employees share our ambition, innovative solutions to improve the lives of people - today and in the future.”

The company offers a range of flexible working models - part-time positions, working from home (telework), job sharing, and additional vacation days with a corresponding reduction in salary. These options are available to anyone who has to care for children or older family members, who is studying or who wants to travel or pursue their hobbies.

Novartis provides in cooperation with an external service advice and information regarding childcare and eldercare and support in the home.

There are a whole host of other initiatives to support parents working at the company. As part of its Family Support Program, Novartis works with an external service provider to offer employees advice and information about childcare, eldercare and homecare. There are also four daycare centres in Basel and one in Stein to help employees with children, and these offer a wide range of care and supervision for the school holidays.

Parental Coaching Workshops are offered to employees who are expecting a baby, have recently become a parent or adopted a child. They are intended to support them through the life-changing experience of starting or growing a family and help mothers and fathers balancing the new responsibilities with their career.

Novartis also supports and encourages participation in an annual “National day of the future,” which gives children aged between 10 and 14 the opportunity to come to their parents’ place of work and learn about the world of work.


So what can we learn from these companies?

The key theme here is that all three organisations have taken specific actions to help their employees balance the needs of work and home. They have simultaneously prioritised the personal success and career development of their people not just in ethos and vision, but also with policies and facilities that support them. For example…

  • They all offer childcare services for employees – whether onsite or nearby
  • They all celebrate the role of carers and parents by organising special events 
  • They all provide flexible working and extended leave, helping employees to reintegrate upon return

We can support you with cutting-edge diversity consulting and training for securing executive buy-in on diversity and inclusion initiatives. If you’re interested, please get in touch with Natalie Wilkins on +41 76 341 5411 or contact us through this form.

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