28 January 2019
Traditionally, flexible work arrangements have been more commonly adopted by those in office based roles. But we know that flex work means different things to different people, across a variety of roles, locations and even assets.
In order to make a real impact on our Company culture, we’re working to enable a more inclusive and diverse workforce where flex work becomes part of the everyday experience of anyone working at BHP.
A recent success story was experienced by the White family with Gemma, a Corporate Affairs Specialist, working in our Queensland Coal team and her husband, Andrew, a Security and Emergency Management Supervisor at our South Flank operation in Western Australian Iron Ore.
"As a FIFO family our motto has always been that "we'll make it work". Previously this has meant one of us stepping back to parental leave or part-time work to care for our two boys while the other worked full-time," Gemma said.
"While we both really enjoyed the time we had on parental leave, our new flexible arrangement allows us to have the best of both worlds - to pursue challenging and meaningful work while still enjoying precious time with our two young boys."
Andrew currently works at the South Flank operation on a 4-days on, 10-days off roster, while Gemma has moved from full-time to a 9-day fortnight with flexible hours around Kindergarten and Andrew's roster.
"When we had our eldest, Harrison, a few years ago, I don't think I would have asked for a flexible working arrangement. Past leaders were working to standardise rosters and there was a strongly held belief that operational FIFO roles couldn’t be flexible," Andrew said.
"I'm pleased to say that when I started the conversations with my Manager and line leader last year, they were both very open and willing to explore the different opportunities for flex work while being FIFO."
Gemma and Andrew have worked at BHP for a combined 22 years and have seen the changes in attitudes and perceptions around operational flex work.
"Flexible working has been the most significant step-change in culture I’ve seen while at BHP," Gemma said.
"For me personally, the equitable approach to parental leave is what makes me the most proud to be part of BHP and I’ve lost count of the number of people that I’ve told about BHP’s parental leave policy and how it meant that on returning to work my husband could then also take parental leave."
"As more and more Dads access primary carer leave and take up flex work arrangements, it will help reframe the current challenges we see from gender-based issues to being organisational considerations."
Andrew believes that flex work has not only given them both a better work / home life balance, but it has also made him a better line leader to his own team.
"Not only will I be an advocate for parental leave and more open to flexible work requests, but I’m determined to think proactively about how I can support my team to balance their own work and home duties."