Best Practice

You are here:

Competition "Family friendliness at the Charité" 2012

Combining work and family is a balancing act that can only succeed if superiors and employees get involved together; all interested parties agree on this.

And at the same time, family-friendly personnel policy is an increasingly important value that is lived in very different ways at the Charité.

With the implementation of a "best practice competition", our goal was to make family-friendly examples visible and to instigate their imitation through communication.

The competition

In his opening speech at the staff party Prof. Einhäupl announced the competition start on 17.08.12. From August to November 2012, individual employees - who have proposed their area or individual supervisors for an award - have participated, working groups, nursing and functional areas of entire Charité centers, institutes and administrative areas submitted their application with completed questionnaires. Of the 18 applications, 16 were able to enter the competition decision. The applications included more than 3,100 employees.

We would like to sincerely thank you for all applications and will communicate good examples.

Panel of judges

The sheer quality of applications meant that the panel of judges found it difficult to decide on a winner. To ensure a fair and transparent selection process, all members of the panel received copies of the applications, as well as summary reports and tables. The majority of applications selected as particularly outstanding showed evidence of consistency and excellence across the board, rather than reflecting individual examples of best practice.

Examples ranged from individual measures, holiday arrangements, and parent volunteer services to lists of approved duties for mothers-to-be; from the comprehensive implementation of family-friendly principles in relation to staffing, work time, and organizational measures, to the complete reorganization of processes and structures, resulting in the creation of new fields of activity; from planned and flexible return-to-work arrangements following parental leave, to measures aimed at safeguarding career paths and progress.

All of the winning applications were characterized by clear evidence of senior staff meeting their responsibilities to an exemplary degree.

The competition also showed that there is plenty of scope for improvement, particularly within the medical services.

Winners of the 'Family-friendly Charité 2012' Awards

Left to right: Prof. Annette Grüters-Kieslich, Senator Sandra Scheeres, Dagmar Hildebrand (CC13), Prof. Ulrike Blume-Peytavi (Department of Dermatology, Venerology and Allergology), Sabine Barleben (Office of Family Affairs), Dr. Annette Moter (Institute of Microbiology and Hygiene), Prof. Karl Max Einhäupl, Evelyn Starkiewicz (CC7)

Winners were celebrated as part of our New Year Reception, with awards going to three business divisions and one individual member of staff, all of whom consistently went beyond the call of duty, often finding creative and personalized solutions to accommodate the specific needs of members of staff with caring responsibilities.

 

 

Winning departments/divisions

Portrait CC 7: Anaesthesiology, surgical management and intensive care

Our Outstanding Achievement Award goes to the Nursing and Medical Support Services of Charité Center CC7, in recognition of their exemplary commitment to finding individualized solutions which go well beyond existing structures and processes. The award also recognizes the exemplary communication of available options by management, and their absolute determination to finding family-friendly solutions.

Profile

  • CC 7 Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Professional services/areas: Nursing and Medical Support Services
  • Center Nursing Manager: Evelyn Starkiewicz


What convinced the judges?

“Every work meeting includes a discussion of the topic (balancing work and family life) in relation to the individual's specific situation.”

  • Senior staff show clear willingness and commitment to finding family-friendly solutions
  • All types of family-related challenges are accommodated using creative and individualized solutions
  • Use of knowledge and experience
  • When shifts are reduced, lists of duties are amended
  • Introduction of project-based work that allows working from home
  • Comprehensive range of working time arrangements
  • Life-phase oriented working time arrangements
  • Parent volunteer services
  • Job-sharing, including for senior staff
  • Float pool


An interview with Evelyn Starkiewicz, Center Nursing Manager CC7

The Office of Family Affairs: When talking about the concept of family-friendly employers, how would you define the term 'family-friendly'? And, in your opinion, what renders a company or a department family-friendly?

E. Starkiewicz: For family-friendly arrangements to work, one must look at the issues from both sides of the argument. That means looking at the interests of the member of staff involved, while also remembering to consider the interests of the organization.This requires good communication and flexibility, both from members of staff and their managers. Both sides have to pull in the same direction and both have to be guided by a culture of give and take. Only then will it be possible to find individualized solutions, such as a new set of responsibilities for a member of staff who is prevented for personal reasons from doing shift work. A family-friendly approach to managing staff is not just limited to members of staff with children, but also includes single people with specific needs or responsibilities, which require them to organize their lives in a specific way. 'Family' includes parents and other relatives. This must be taken into consideration and must be given the attention and status it deserves.

The Office of Family Affairs: As a senior member of staff, where do you see opportunities for action in support of a more family-friendly environment at work?

E. Starkiewicz: For us to be in a position to take action, we need members of staff to communicate with us and tell us if and where there are problems. We can then sit down with the member of staff to discuss their specific needs, what we can offer in terms of support, and what can be done to support them within their specific area of work. Both collegiality and solidarity are key to achieving a family-friendly work environment, and they determine the scope of options available to line managers and senior management. For instance, the caring responsibilities of a member of staff may be reduced as his/her children get older. He/she may then relinquish their entitlement once the children need less of their time and care. If the member of staff informs their line manager or senior management of their change in circumstance, the care time entitlement can then be used to benefit a different member of staff. Should it be impossible to find a suitable solution within the member of staff's area of responsibility, every effort should be made to find alternative solutions, e.g. by adjusting their duties and responsibilities, or by moving them to a different section. For the senior management team of CC7, the willingness to accommodate the needs of our staff is as imperative as it is natural. The same goes for our willingness to support our staff in finding a healthy work-life balance through individualized solutions that work within their area or section. We are happy to utilize the support offered by the Office of Family Affairs, and ensure that our members of staff are aware of the services available.

The Office of Family Affairs: At this point, we would like to take a look into the future. What are the ideas, measures, and projects in place to promote and support a family-friendly environment at work?

E. Starkiewicz: Future measures and projects will be largely determined by staff needs. Currently, we are offering whatever we are able to give, such as the option of reducing shifts, starting work later, part-time working, and reducing working hours for staff who are also students down to 25% or even 15%. Naturally, what is possible depends on what can be absorbed by the relevant member of staff's section and other members of staff. What we do not currently have in nursing is the option of taking a sabbatical or banking time. This would be a useful step in helping us make things even more flexible. We are trying to focus on the needs of our staff by supporting them in their careers as well as family-related matters (caring for children, but also increasingly caring for parents and grandparents). This is only possible if all parties involved show some degree of flexibility.

The Office of Family Affairs: How will you use the prize money and what ideas are you hoping to implement?

E. Starkiewicz: One option would be to use part of the money to support the INA-Kindergarten facility on Campus Virchow-Klinikum, and use some more to help fund a party for staff and/or children. Another option would be to use part of the money to support certain projects or sections which are particularly active in implementing family-friendly measures.


This interview was conducted by Doreen Makowiak and Arlette Schwanke.

Portrait CRC: Clinical Research for Hair and Skin Science

Our Oustanding Achievement Award goes to the Clinical Research for Hair and Skin Science (CRC) section at the Department of Dermatology, Venerology and Allergology, in recognition of the comprehensive range of options available to support a better balance between work/research and family life. The award also recognizes that staff show approval of, and appreciation for, the highly effective implementation of family-friendly measures by senior management.


Profile – Prof. Dr. med Ulrike Blume-Peytavi, Director of the CRC

  • Clinical Research Center for Hair and Skin Science (CRC) at the Department of Dermatology, Venerology and Allergology
  • Total staff                                        29          
  • Number of children                           19
  • Part-time staff                                 12          
  • Number of adult dependents             1
  • Number of staff on parental leave      1

 

What convinced the judges?

“The use of fixed periods of closure at Christmas/New Year and during the summer is particularly beneficial to parents with school-aged children. It allows them to schedule and enjoy 'undisturbed' family time during times when childcare options may not be available.”

“Leadership: A family-friendly work environment has to be created”

Work and target-setting meetings are used to determine individual needs and personal circumstances with a view to finding achievable targets.

  • Creation of individualized working time models following parental leave
  • Working-at-home days subject to managerial approval
  • Periods of exemption from routine clinical tasks
  • Initial meetings about an eventual return to work even before the start of parental leave

 


The 'CRC model'

The CRC model sets out closure time arrangements as well as procedures on how to handle projects and resources while young researchers are on parental leave.Young parents are given the opportunity to reduce their working hours. Any savings resulting from such measures are used to support parents in doing so: this includes increasing the capacity of research support offices, to enable them to take on additional administrative tasks and coordinating responsibilities, and to increase the availability of support staff such as medical technology assistants, research nurses, and students, who can help with certain lab-based experiments and office paperwork. This additional support for routine and administrative tasks frees up capacity without reducing productivity.

In an ideal scenario, capacity gains will help secure external funding to fund the continued assistance from relevant research support services. Over the past 12 years, the CRC has seen a steady growth in staff numbers. Their model is not only effective in creating and enhancing a family-friendly work environment, it has also proved to be an effective human resource development tool.

 

An interview with Prof. Dr. med. Ulrike Blume-Peytavi, Director of the CRC and Head of Department

The Office of Family Affairs: When talking about the concept of family-friendly employers, how would you define the term 'family-friendly'? And, in your opinion, what renders a company or a department family-friendly?

U. Blume-Peytavi: A family-friendly organization ensures that its members of staff, including their personal situation and circumstances, are taken into account. Staff should be involved in planning to ensure they can perform their duties without feeling torn and unable to balance the responsibilities of family life, clinical work and research.There are many reasons why a member of staff might feel worried: “Are the children being looked after?”, “Will I be able to leave on time?”, “What happens once I return from maternity leave?” “Will I still have my job?” The moment a member of staff is distracted by constant, niggling worries is the moment they stop being able to relax enough to concentrate fully on their work.This means a family-friendly employer should always aim to achieve a win-win situation, i.e. a situation in which the employer is mindful of the needs of their staff, while the member of staff is similarly mindful of the needs of the employer. This task requires them to work together as partners, in order to find a solution that reflects both the best interests of the employer and the member of staff.I believe this is exactly why things work so well in our center: we have an incredible display of fair play on both sides.

The Office of Family Affairs: As a senior member of staff, where do you see opportunities for action in support of a more family-friendly environment at work?

U. Blume-Peytavi: The introduction of flexible working time and working-from-home arrangements are where I see concrete opportunities for action. Projects and specific tasks should be assigned in such a way as to ensure they can be completed within a specific time frame, including by staff with flexible working time arrangements.This includes taking into consideration flexible holiday and closure time arrangements, which will result in periods of reduced activity, when we will only have skeleton staff to keep things going.

It goes without saying that thorough forward planning is essential if closure time periods and periods of reduced capacity are to be accommodated successfully. I see other opportunities for action on the part of the employer. In our department, for instance, female staff with children under two years of age have the option of requesting exemption from on-call duties. This is not mandatory; it is up to the member of staff to decide whether they want to utilize this option or not.

The Office of Family Affairs: At this point, we would like to take a look into the future. What are the ideas, measures, and projects in place to promote and support a family-friendly environment at work?

U. Blume-Peytavi:  I believe our aim should be to continue with what we have been doing: closure time arrangements, flexible working time arrangements, options available as part of project-specific tasks, working from home and exemption from on-call duties for mothers of children under two years of age. There are also other examples. For instance, we are now renting a parking space for a severely disabled mother, with costs covered through external funding. I should also mention our regular summer party and team events for members of staff and their children.

It is crucial to show understanding towards members of staff and their family circumstances. Mutual support is also crucial – it brings people together and creates a positive work atmosphere. We know we are on the right path. This is evident from the fact that all members of staff return to work after parental leave, they all want to stay, and they all want to renew their contracts. Many of our staff have been at the CRC for many years.

The Office of Family Affairs: How will you use the prize money and what ideas are you hoping to implement?

U. Blume-Peytavi:  We are currently considering putting a short video on our homepage to help communicate and advertise measures we currently have in place.We would also like to provide the funding for an additional student assistant to support our researchers with children on an existing project for approximately two to three months.


This interview was conducted by Doreen Makowiak and Arlette Schwanke.

Portrait CC13: Nursing and Medical Support Services

Our Oustanding Achievement Award goes to the Nursing and Medical Support Services of CC13, in recognition of their commitment to supporting members of staff with family responsibilities and the development of general rules and arrangements to support these members of staff. There is a specific focus on the needs of single parents and members of staff who provide care for a relative, and effective communication of the options and services available to support members of staff in finding a better work-life balance. Support is delivered in such a manner as to ensure that different interests within a team are respected and accommodated.


Profile – Dagmar Hildebrand, Center Nursing Manager CC13

  • Center: Internal Medicine with Gastroenterology and Nephrology (CC13)
  • Professional services/areas: Nursing and Medical Support Services
  • Types of services: inpatient care, 2 intensive care units, day care units, outpatient units, medical support services

  • Number of staff                 441    
  • Number of children                       ca. 180
  • Part-time staff                         223    
  • Number of adult dependents     ca. 15
  • Number of staff on parental leave        16

 

What convinced the judges?

“Part-time arrangements are almost always possible. Some areas have introduced working time arrangements that suit the specific needs of mothers with children.”

“Three months prior to their return to work after parental leave, members of staff meet with management to discuss working time arrangements, area of work, childcare and training needs.”

Concept: Mothers (-to-be) in CC13 Nursing Services

  • Part-time arrangements are common and do not pose any problems
  • Communication – Strategies for 'Mothers-to-be in Nursing Services'
  • Family-friendly holiday arrangements
  • Robust duty rosters – with special consideration given to single parents
  • Dates of internal meetings are scheduled a month or, in most cases, a year in advance.
  • Extensive communication: flyers for staff who care for adult dependents, strategy document 'Mothers in Nursing Services', rules for family-friendly holiday arrangements

 

An interview with Dagmar Hildebrand, Center Nursing Manager CC13

D. Hildebrand: At Charité, holiday arrangements are subject to internal rules, the Federal Paid Leave Act (Bundesurlaubsgesetz), and the Paid Education Leave Act for Berlin (Berliner Bildungsurlaubsgesetz). Both members of staff and managers can find the available information difficult to understand and reconcile. (Annual leave arrangements – CC13 Nursing Services (Urlaubsplanung im Pflegedienst des CC13)

To make things easier, we have produced written guidelines. These remain unique at Charité. They contain recommendations and instructions regarding regular meetings to be held throughout a member of staff's pregnancy, after the end of their paid maternity leave, or after their return to work following parental leave. The aim of this is to ensure meetings and discussions can be held early, in order to prepare for the member of staff's return to work, and to address important issues, such as finding childcare, shift work, and alternative options available at Charité.We also produce an information leaflet for members of staff (Infobrief für Mitarbeiter), which is of interest to members of staff who are still on parental leave. This leaflet, which is produced at somewhat irregular intervals (between two and four times a year), provides members of staff with access to information on the latest developments within their area of work over the past few months, as well as information on current projects, planned moves, new members of staff, anniversaries, and so on.We are currently developing a flyer for the friends and relatives of our patients, which may eventually be used across Charité. Addressed to people who care for an adult relative, and providing information on available services and relevant contacts, these flyers can also be useful to members of staff.

The Office of Family Affairs: When talking about the concept of family-friendly employers, how would you define the term 'family-friendly'? And, in your opinion, what renders a company or a department family-friendly?

D. Hildebrand: In my opinion, the most important thing for an organization to do in this respect – particularly in light of the growing shortage of skilled nursing staff – is to offer options that enable staff to find a healthy work-life balance.

The Office of Family Affairs: As a senior member of staff, where do you see opportunities for action in support of a more family-friendly environment at work?

D. Hildebrand: I believe there is scope for us to become even more flexible as far as the planning of rosters is concerned. I know of facilities with arrangements which offer staff returning to nursing the opportunity to choose a specific type of employment contract and fixed working time arrangements, which means exclusively working either early, late, or during night shifts. Such fixed scheduling makes planning ahead much easier than when staff have to work around constantly changing shift patterns. I feel there is still a lot of scope for improvement at Charité.Even when we feel we are already on track to achieving robust improvements, it is imperative that we tell members of staff about the options available to them. It is crucial for managers to keep encouraging staff to utilize what is available. Having a playroom, for instance, is a great idea in my view.

I know of a member of staff who uses Kidsmobil if she needs emergency childcare, and she is extremely happy with the service. It is a service that is available to all members of staff. But even this service is still in its infancy, and needs more time to grow. This is precisely why I see my main role here as that of facilitator.

The Office of Family Affairs: Now, looking ahead: What are the ideas, measures, and projects in place to promote and support a family-friendly environment?

D. Hildebrand: In our center, we are currently looking for alternative options for older members of staff. As a profession, nursing is extremely physically demanding, particularly so on normal care and intensive care wards. Not everyone is able to continue performing all of the duties involved until they are 65 years old.

The Office of Family Affairs: How will you use the prize money and what ideas are you hoping to implement?

D. Hildebrand: Many of our managerial members of staff are actively trying to ensure that working time arrangements meet the needs of the staff they supervise. I would like to support these colleagues in their efforts to create a more family-friendly environment, by enabling them to take part in relevant conferences, workshops or professional development events.We also need to actively encourage all members of staff who utilize the options and services available to them at Charité to report back about their experiences. This can be far more effective than simply reading about services on offer without understanding what these involve in practice.

 

 

This interview was conducted by Doreen Makowiak and Arlette Schwanke.

Portrait AG Moter: Working Group (AG) at the Institute of Microbiology and Hygiene, led by Dr. Moter

Our Outstanding Achievement Award goes to the Institute of Microbiology and Hygiene Working Group (AG) led by Dr. Moter. The AG's submission included reports from research staff and young mothers, describing their experiences during pregnancy, parental leave, and return to work, and outlining the level of support provided by senior staff to help them in achieving a healthy work-life balance.

 

Profile

  • Working Group (AG) at the Institute of Microbiology and Hygiene, CBF
  • Working Group Lead: Dr. Annette Moter
  • Number of staff                             9
  • Number of children                         3
  • Part-time staff                               3
  • Number of staff on parental leave     1

 

What convinced the judges?

"Dr. Moter had one room converted into a dedicated child care / breastfeeding room, fully equipped with a cot, play mat and computer terminal. Parents can bring their children with them when they attend a meeting.”

“Parents on parental leave have the option of working part-time on a fee basis, e.g. by taking on projects/project-based work, in particular during the transition phase between their parental leave and the point at which they return to work.”

“Staff on parental leave remain members of the team, and are kept fully informed of all work-related decisions: the team remains in contact with them, they are included in conference calls, and copied into emails. Aside from giving absent team members the option of joining meetings via telephone, staff also use Skype for messaging within their teams.”

  • Contract options following parental leave
  • Children are welcome during all meetings, celebrations and joint meals.
  • Successful support through intensive and personal commitment and a warm atmosphere
  • Flexible working-time arrangements and highly individualized options to allow staff to return to work following parental leave
  • Working-from-home options for pregnant staff and staff with caring responsibilities
  • Use of the internet and teleconferencing to support the inclusion of staff on parental leave
  • Family-friendly meeting times and annual leave planning in consultation with staff
  • Job-sharing arrangements are firmly established in practice
  • Comprehensive career planning and signposting of options based on specific family circumstances
  • Members of staff are notified of any family-friendly options available to them

 

An interview with Dr. Annette Moter

The Office of Family Affairs: When talking about the concept of family-friendly employers, how would you define the term 'family-friendly'? And, in your opinion, what renders a company or a department family-friendly?

A. Moter: First and foremost, members of staff have to feel that children are welcome, and that pregnancy does not constitute the end of their careers. So, we work together to find a way to ensure that work in the lab is not disrupted, which is precisely what happened when three of my female staff all fell pregnant within the space of just a few months. They were the ones who nominated me for this award.During their pregnancies, these members of staff were able to collect data, which they were later able to process and analyze in a flexible manner, either working with the team or working from home.The most important thing of all is to create the right atmosphere within the team, and to structure things in such a way as to ensure that work can continue even if one member of staff becomes unavailable. This requires a lot of effort on the part of senior staff, and a lot of motivation from members of staff. However, it is very much worth the effort, as the team really wants to make this work.

The Office of Family Affairs: As a senior member of staff, where do you see opportunities for action in support of a more family-friendly environment at work?

A. Moter: Flexible working arrangements and having faith in one's members of staff are crucial. Certain things like STAT laboratory tests must, of course, run like clockwork. Beyond that, however, it is up to members of staff to decide how they can accomplish their work. While I will of course get involved if I see there is friction between my staff or if things are not working out as they should, all of my members of staff are committed to making things work.

Our lab meetings ensure that members of the team can get together on a regular basis. Everybody adds their experiences of what has happened over the past few weeks to an excel table, outlining exactly where they would want to be, where they are, and the reasons for any discrepancies. We use this information to decide if anyone needs support and, if so, what type of support.The introduction of fee-based contracts and the installation of a room containing a computer terminal and a cot have proved absolutely invaluable. Aside form enabling mothers to take part in meetings, these innovations have made returning to work after parental leave less of an uphill struggle.We also use modern media and Skype to keep all members of staff involved in what is going on. Sometimes, it is just easier to do things this way than to pack everything up and bring your child with you.

The Office of Family Affairs: At this point, we would like to take a look into the future. What are the ideas, measures, and projects in place to promote and support a family-friendly environment at work?

A. Moter: First of all, we want to continue doing what we are doing. As for new ideas, one might say we are already in the process of developing new ways of working. After all, I am having to plan ahead to get approval for new posts to ensure we are not left with any major gaps.It would be nice if this could be done with less bureaucracy, less paperwork. And more flexibility.

The Office of Family Affairs: How will you use the prize money and what ideas are you hoping to implement?

A. Moter: We would like to use the prize money to buy a larger monitor with internet access, for video conferencing and to support staff training. This would allow members of staff with children to dial into video conferences from their home computers.


This interview was conducted by Doreen Makowiak and Arlette Schwanke.