Work and family life: flexibility helps

Creating options

ERGO gives its employees access to a wide range of flextime models to help them combine their careers with their personal and family lives. We are certified as being a company aware of the issues surrounding employees’ family lives, and have developed a range of instruments to meet their needs, including part-time working arrangements. In Germany, employee access to the service provider “pme Familienservice” complements our family-friendly policies.

In the light of demographic change and an impending shortage of specialists on the labour market, the importance of supporting employees with family responsibilities is set to keep on increasing in the future. We at ERGO are acutely aware of this issue, and have responded by making employees’ ability to combine their careers with their family lives an integral part of our corporate culture. Above and beyond this, ERGO is active in encouraging family-friendly corporate policies across society; for instance, we are a member of the “Erfolgsfaktor Familie” (Family as a Success Factor) network initiated by the German Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth.

Family-friendly – and that’s official

As early as 2002, ERGO received the German “Career and Family” (berufundfamilie®) certification for its policies helping employees to balance their careers with their family lives and for further objectives of its HR work that demonstrate awareness of employees‘ family issues. The certificate is awarded by the non-profit Hertie Foundation in the context of a three-year process of development and monitoring. In 2016, ERGO underwent the independent audit for the fifth time.Independent studies confirm that higher employee satisfaction translates into higher-quality work. Taking this principle to heart, ERGO is consciously committed to sustainably family-friendly HR policies.

Made-to-measure models to meet every need

Employees at ERGO are able, in line with country-specific regulations and arrangements, to reduce their working hours for a specified period of time or take a sabbatical for family reasons without losing their jobs. In this way, employees with caring responsibilities for children or other family members are able to manage their work flexibly around their role in the family. One example of such policies that exerts a strong appeal to employees in Germany is our company parental leave, which employees can use to extend their legal parental leave by up to three years – without losing their right to return to work full-time afterwards. Parents can also split this period up and use part of it later on in their child’s life, such as during their school-starting phase. In order to keep in touch with new mothers and fathers, ERGO has initiated a parents’ network, among other projects.
In addition to all this, employees can convert special payments such as Christmas or holiday bonuses into up to 44 additional days of annual leave, enabling them to work four-day or 30-hour weeks without losing their full-time status. Furthermore, we are unique in Germany in guaranteeing employees taking a family sabbatical of up to a year a position of equal value in the same area of the business upon their return. We also allow employees to work from home for limited periods subject to their line manager’s agreement, or take a short-notice “family break” of up to twelve months to care for family members, receiving half of their usual salary during this period and for the period of the equivalent length after their return to work.

On hand to help: The family services and childcare

In childcare emergencies, such as illness of the child's regular carer, "pme Familienservice" is on hand to help out. The company, with which we have a cooperation agreement, is active across Germany, organising childminders, school-holiday childcare or carers for employees’ relatives, and providing advice to people on funding the care and the legal framework. Our employees can use the company’s advisory and agency services free of charge, and there is a round-the-clock hotline for them to turn to in emergencies.

All major German locations have parent and child offices for employees to work in for a day at a time, featuring one or two desks with all required equipment and a play corner for the children. Furthermore, at major locations such as City Nord in Hamburg and Lindenthal in Cologne, we reserve places at a range of day nurseries for our employees; we are planning to extend this service step by step to other locations, with particular emphasis on places for under-threes.

In Düsseldorf, ERGO and Uniper, working with pme Familienservice, operate a joint childcare facility, “E-Kids”. It consists of two large childminding settings in each of which two childminders look after a total of nine children.

School holidays frequently prove a particular challenge for working parents, whose annual leave usually falls short of the time in which schools and nurseries are closed and for whom finding appropriate holiday childcare is often a difficult and expensive undertaking. In response to this need, ERGO cooperates with other companies to run "kidz-playground", a holiday club at its Düsseldorf and Hamburg locations. Language courses (“Learning English with fun”) are offered at Cologne and Düsseldorf, whereas employees’ kids in Munich can visit a Youth farm.

Elena de Graat - PreviewElena de Graat
Auditor - berufundfamilie gGmbH:

 “ERGO has created excellent models and instruments in its personnel strategy, in order to establish the issue of getting the work-life balance right in the company. This company is undoubtedly operating in the premier league on this front. The big challenge will be to ensure that these instruments are accepted and implemented over the long term – by managers and by employees. This requires time and lots of small steps to reach each unit, each individual and therefore make the best use of the opportunities. Ultimately, this is about a change in corporate culture which can make a verifiable contribution to increasing motivation as well as the business success of the Company.”

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