Jan O'Keefe - General Manager of ahm - Women in Leadership Summit 28 May 2019
I was honoured to take part in this week’s Women in Leadership Summit in Sydney – both as the General Manager of ahm and as an agent of change in the wider Medibank group.
Our business is already aware of the ‘power’ that comes with providing employees with flexible working conditions.
When ‘FlexBetter’ was introduced across the Medibank Group in 2017 – it recognised that our people not only have jobs to do, but a busy life outside of work. It highlighted that a desire for greater flexibility is not just the realm of parents, it applies to all 4,000 people in our company.
I shared the Summit floor with a handful of women and men from the private and public sector. We all agreed that greater flexibility has brought about some of the most significant improvements to the workplace. The corporate mindset has changed for the better – good leaders want results and are less concerned when and where it’s done.
At Medibank, we have working groups with people across the business constantly asking, ‘what does flexibility look like’ and how do we ‘sell’ the message to embrace and celebrate it. It wasn’t all smooth sailing to begin with - I’d even say most people felt awkward asking to work from home. Now, it’s part of our DNA. Last financial year, almost 76% of all Medibank employees were working flexibly, including 75% of our senior leaders.
As a mother of two small children, I see women benefit in a modern workplace like never before. Greater flexibility means we can support them in combining motherhood and a fulfilling career, not just a part-time job. We also recognise many of our male employees are dads. The feedback we’re getting is that parents of both genders are ‘leaving loudly’ – proudly declaring they’re on pick-up duties and no longer sneaking out the side door.
For flexibility to be authentic it needs to be across the board and trust is key. You don’t need a reason to work from home. I know that not all jobs can be flexible, but where we can, we do. We celebrate team members who arrive later because they rode a bicycle in, if it means they’re bringing their best self to the office and looking after their physical and mental health.
For any organisation, big or small, the challenge is always how to attract and retain the best talent. Prospective employees are now looking to see if flexible work is available for every employee, without the need to provide a reason.