Flexible working hours at ERGO

ERGO supports its staff

People & stories, 03.01.2020

Kids or career, family or management position, success or private life: During most intensive phase of life, it seems we often have to make a decision. ERGO is committed to enabling its employees to have both.



For most people, there is a stage in life where everything happens faster. Between the ages of 25 and 50, professional commitments, children and other challenges all collide during the rush hour of life. In the prime of our lives, things should run smoothly. We have completed our studies or training, our careers are off to a solid start and our finances are stabilising.

The overwhelming amount of responsibilities and decisions

In theory, the rush hour of life is the ideal time frame for reflecting on all we have accomplished and perhaps, for the first time, making one of our dreams come true. In reality, few of us have the luxury of catching our breath. On the contrary, the rush hour of life entails a relentless flood of demands, tasks and choices – often all at once. Do I want to climb the career ladder – or start a family? Where do we want to live? What type of life do we want? House or flat? Urban or rural? Rent or buy? Who will take care of our children? What will we do if our parents require long-term nursing care? Who will step away from work to focus on family?
“We think there should be more opportunities for colleagues to not have to choose,” says Christian Stefan Braun, Change and Diversity Manager at ERGO. He and his team help make it possible for ERGO staff to balance family obligations with various approaches to work: being a good parent at home and a responsible employee at work, career development opportunities and flexible working arrangements, continuing professional development and time with family. All of that is being enabled by both the family-friendly HR policies at ERGO and a broad range of job models that grant staff the freedom to choose sensible solutions.

Mobile working and more flexibility at ERGO

Anne from Kerpen (Germany) has been working at ERGO for over 35 years. She is now experiencing her second rush hour of life. Her first one started 15 years ago when her son was born. She and her husband have three children in their patchwork family. It was no problem for Anne to take two years of maternity leave and enjoy spending time with her family before gradually resuming her career and add more working hours over time.
Meanwhile, further developments continue to ease her work-life balance: The 55-year-old change manager advises individuals and teams at ERGO on how they can best tap their potential. She travels a lot to lead multiple events. It therefore makes a big difference for her that she can decide where and when she works. “As a result, I’m able to pursue my career and in the meantime be there for my family,” she says.

Flexible working hours are a big support

Anne’s situation is one that is similar to the one of Andreas from Düsseldorf (Germany). This 48-year-old’s rush hour of life began six years ago, when he became a father and an ERGO team leader in just one year time. “I love both roles and I naturally want to be the best I can at home and at work – which isn’t always easy,” Andreas says. He runs on a tight schedule – particularly since he began caring for his mother, who is 86. “She has done so many good things for me and I’m eager to return the favour. I am glad to put my free time and hobbies second.”
The flexible working hours at ERGO grant him the latitude he needs. On a day full of meetings, Andreas arrives at the office at 6.30 a.m. and visits his mother during his lunchbreak. He then continues work before driving his daughter to her sports practice, doing the groceries and checking homework in the evening. Andreas also belongs to a network of fathers at ERGO and the parent-teacher association at his daughter’s school. “All of my duties and time with my family are important to me,” he says. “I know that I can count on further support from ERGO should my mother need more help.”

Sabbaticals are another option

It is precisely with such circumstances in mind that ERGO allows staff to take a sabbatical or convert special payments – such as holiday pay or the Christmas bonus, for instance – into as many as 42 additional holidays. On top, ERGO employees are guaranteed an equivalent position in the same unit after returning from a sabbatical year – a policy found at no other company in Germany. “Flexible working hours and being free to decide where I work may not lead to fewer meetings, but it does mean I can balance work with family how I want.” adds Andreas.
ERGO employees in need of help can also turn to ERGO partner WDS.care, a provider of nursing and assistance services throughout Germany that offers them free advice and seminars on nursing care. These benefits and others are part of the audit berufundfamilie (family and career audit), a certification that ERGO received, which recognises the group as a particularly family-friendly employer. In short, HR policies at ERGO grant staff the freedom they need to balance work and family life during the rush hour of life. After all, the more content employees are, the better their performance.
This article first appeared in German on zeit.de on 1 October 2018.

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