Aged care shines at flexible employer awards

Three of the 20 Victorian organisations recognised for providing flexible workplaces are aged care providers.

Three Victorian aged care providers have been recognised in the 2010 Fair and Flexible Employer Recognition awards.

Mercy Health, Villa Maria and Benetas were commended by the Victorian Government’s Working Families Council for their efforts to provide staff with balanced careers and family life.

Half of Mercy Health’s 5,000 employees take advantage of its flexible working arrangements which include job sharing, children at work programs, phased return to work arrangements and phased retirement.

The organisation also allows staff on parental leave to work casual shifts to help them return to work under an innovative program called Mercy Bank.

Mercy’s Director of People, Learning & Culture, Kate McCormack says it is crucial to be a competitive employer in the current labour market.
“There are lots of health organisations out there,” she said, “and if you’re a nurse there are lots of options to choose from. So we want to make sure that those nurses choose Mercy Health.

“Ninety per cent of our workforce is female and they tell us that flexible work practices are important to them.

“For example, it’s important to allow people to work as a manager part time. A lot of women return to work after leaving the workforce at a lower level and that’s a shame because there is a skill set there that we need to maintain.”

Villa Maria’s 950 staff members are able to access flexible leave, a range of learning and development opportunities and flexible start and finish times.

The organisation offers its employees a free referral service for aged care and childcare services.

Soon it will introduce a new program called Stay in Touch for staff on maternity leave.

“To ensure that we can minimise the risk of isolation form the workplace for staff on maternity leave, we are going to ensure that our managers and supervisors keep them up to date about any program changes or new initiatives that the organisation is taking on,” said senior HR consultant, Tina Dimitriadis.

“That way, when they come back to the workforce, they don’t have to feel like they have to re-adjust completely to working life.”

Benetas also provides flexible leave arrangements, job sharing, a ‘Stay in touch’ program for staff on parental leave and leadership development programs for management staff.

The group’s CEO, Sandra Hills said the organisation is currently developing a workforce management plan to identify its skill requirements for the future.
“We know that competition for staff has been with us and it is going to continue to be with us,” she said.

“In the end, we all provide a similar sort of care so we are aiming to develop a work environment that enables experienced workers to remain engaged, motivated and productive.”

“When you have unhappy staff or staff who aren’t motivated, you have high rates of sick leave and disgruntled staff and the quality of care drops. We also know that if you have good managers and if you provide a good work environment you have happy staff and better care.”

Tags: awards, benetas, hr, mercy-health, recruitment, retention, villa-maria, workforce,

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