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Labour flexibility in Schneider Electric: naturally combining personal and professional schedules

Marta Vázquez    (Posted: September 26, 2019)
Reading Time: 5 minutes

The growing demand for balance between personal and professional life is a reality which companies face every day. Therefore, it is essential to have labour flexibility policies that allow for a good work-life balance, thus generating greater job satisfaction and stronger employee links to the company and its projects.

Taking this into account, only quick-thinking, innovative and committed companies who are aware of the importance of being attractive to the best talent will be able to capture and retain it. This is the case of Schneider Electric, a leading company in the digital transformation of energy management and automation.

On the 6th of June, in the Women Tech Talent Sessions afterwork held in Barcelona, Wisar had the opportunity to find out first-hand the commitment of Schneider Electric to developing empowerment programmes for women in the STEM sector, in which organisers and participants highlighted work-life balance as one of the main benefits of the company.

We spoke to Marta Fernández, director of Labour Relations at Schneider Electric, the company where she has been working for more than 6 years. Marta is convinced that:

“The policies and culture of companies are changing a lot. You just have to look back and try to remember how companies were 10 years ago.”
 
“Companies that have not understood have missed the boat, because society is diverse and what moves us as employees, as customers or as shareholders is changing.”

Marta Fernández, director of Labour Relations at Schneider Electric

Day to day Marta deals with social and labour issues aimed at implementing policies and programmes, which include diversity, inclusion and social and ethical responsibility. The company understands that great people make great companies, and that those great people want committed, diverse and socially-aware companies who understand that you can only give your best when you are at your best yourself. Marta’s work contributes to making this a reality in Spain.

Flexibility programmes

Schneider Electric introduced a flexibility programme in 2004, aimed at allowing its employees to enjoy more flexible work schedules and more flexible models, capable of adapting to their lifestyle, and, in turn, maximizing employee’s commitment and loyalty to the company.

Today, a high percentage of employees work remotely and benefit from flexible hours. In fact, this flexibility has become integral to life within the company. 

“Without telecommuting,” Marta highlights, “we could not work with global teams.” “Establishing and respecting the rules of the game – for example, no emails on weekends -, providing the necessary tools, taking on responsibilities, and working based on projects or objectives instead of sticking to a strict working schedule, are some of the measures that have allowed Schneider Electric to implement labour flexibility as a work model, ” she explains.

Marta Fernández, director of Labour Relations at Schneider Electric

Carmen Soler, Health Safety Management Documents, explains that Schneider has “flexible start and finish times,which allows work to be carried out more freely and flexibly. If I have a task to do first thing in the morning, I can get it done and then enter the office later on.”

Likewise, there are other advantages such as FlexiDay: “We can take a FlexiDay (4 in total per year), which consists of only working half the day and using the other part of the day for personal use,” explains Carmen.

Carmen Soler, Health Safety Management Documents at Schneider Electric

For more than 15 years, the leading company in the electricity sector has been implementing and reviewing its company culture and employee welfare programmes and extending benefits to its workers.

“Refocusing our human resources strategy based on high performance, diversity and inclusion, talent development, well-being, training, leadership” is an ongoing job that the Department of Labour Relations and Marta Fernández are proud of.

“Since its implementation,” says Fernández, “we have noticed great changes. Employees are much more involved, there is more commitment and greater participation, and the amount of unjustified leave has been reduced. Groups are even emerging in the teams that promote and organise activities to encourage the well-being and personal and professional development of employees.” Involvement is not just limited to the bulk of Schneider Electric’s collaborators. It is clear that “it is the leaders themselves who must lead by example and management commitment is fundamental.”

Schneider Electric has:

  • Yoga classes.
  • Running groups.
  • A wide range of training opportunities that include sleep or meditation workshops 
  • There are also, among many others, language classes for everyone and finance courses for employees outside the financial department.

Employee benefits 

Some of these courses and workshops are also accessible online so that collaborators can do them when and where they want. “For example, there are some specific courses to learn how to release your energy: they invite you to reflect on when you are more productive, when you should rest, why you have to disconnect… or what it is that increases our energy levels. 

Our physical and emotional health determines how we work; It is impossible to leave your Personal Self waiting at the door until the end of the day. Only when you feel good do you do your best.” In addition to accessing online courses, from the “connect point” workers have access to equality plans, harassment protocol, complaint channels, etc.

Diversity and conciliation 

When talking about diversity and work-life balance in companies, the name of Schneider Electric always comes up. Due to its integration and diversity policies, for the last three years, Schneider Electric has been recruiting between 50 and 52% of women. 

To this effect, the company has programmes for the integration of women in the workplace that “allow for reducing the gender gap, such as the incorporation of women into management plans”.

For Marta, integration is crucial because “diverse and innovative teams respect each other more. With varied teams you work better and more efficiently, with greater vision and a more social perspective. In short, we achieve mixed and diverse teams, that are much more cohesive”.

Mentoring programmes

Other mentoring programmes include mentoring for women, focused on boosting their empowerment and projecting their professional career, or reverse mentoring, focused “not on traditional mentoring in which a senior professional teaches a junior, instead the roles are reversed and both sides learn, gain new visions and new ways of doing.”

In addition, once a year at Schneider Electric they organise the “Learning week”, in which a variety of training opportunities are made available to workers, also allowing employees the chance to offer some type of training in their speciality.

Global Family Leave

Through the “Global Family Leave” programme, all Schneider Electric employees have:

  • 12-week paid for the primary parent (both natural and adoptive).
  • 2 weeks for the secondary.
  • 1 week for the care of an elderly family member or for the care of a family member due to illness.
  • Additionally, employees can take 1 week leave for the death of a loved one.

The programmes implemented by Schneider Electric undergo constant reassessment and review of their results and objectives, seeking to involve as many people as possible and adapt as much as possible to the needs of each employee. As Fernández points out, “Schneider Electric’s philosophy allows us to work with trial and error schemes, allowing us to restructure and modify the different initiatives being implemented.”

Initiatives and programmes through which Schneider Electric seeks to put its own personal and professional growth in the hands of its employees, because, it is clear to them that:

You are the developer of your own talent.