Clinical Research for Hair and Skin Science (CRC) - Outstanding Achievement Award

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

 

 

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

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

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
  • Director of the CRC and Head of Department: Prof. Dr. med Ulrike Blume-Peytavi
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?

Photo: The team from the Clinical Research Center of Hair and Skin, led by Prof. Dr. med. Ulrike Blume-Peytavi

“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.