27 May 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 and locations.
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.
Martin Greenhalgh, Processing Superintendent at BMA's Peak Downs Mine, and his wife Rachael Greenhalgh, HSE Superintendent at Goonyella Riverside Mine, have worked for BHP for more than 10 years and have experienced the challenges and benefits of flex work firsthand.
Read Marty's story here…
Rachael and I first started with BHP in 2008, and one of the biggest cultural shifts I've experienced to date has been the attitudes towards flex working arrangements.
It doesn't feel too long ago that when Rachael and I requested a six-month unpaid sabbatical to travel, we quickly found that our Managers weren't supportive of the arrangement.
We'd both been with the Company for a number of years and while we were extremely happy in our respective roles, we also had goals outside of work that we wanted to achieve.
In the end, we both decided to resign from our roles and from BHP. It was an incredibly difficult decision for both of us, however I will never regret taking that time (pre-kids!) to travel and see the world.
Fast forward a few years later…
Rachael and I both found ourselves back with BHP and living in Moranbah, in the heart of Queensland's Bowen Basin.
We were married and had a baby on the way. It was a great time and the first time I really noticed the change in attitude, especially from our leaders, around flex work at BHP.
Making flex work for both
Following the birth of Noah, I was so thankful for the support from both our teams. At first, Rachael stayed at home with Noah and I went back to work.
It was really challenging to get that balance between work and family right. As an operational Superintendent, I had teams reliant on my input and presence, and that dependency was also present at home as well. It was a tough balance and I found myself having to manage expectations from my family and my colleagues.
When Noah was a few months old, Rachael and I started conversations about me taking primary carer's leave and Rachael returning to work. We started these conversations early with our Managers and had their support the entire way through.
So that was it - after nine months, Rachael returned to work and I looked after Noah full time.
While I'll admit it was a tough adjustment for the both of us, it was one of the best decisions we ever made.
A new world…
A few weeks into my parental leave, I had an opportunity to attend a team day in Moranbah. I didn’t have a plan for Noah so I brought him along. The day allowed me to reconnect with work colleagues, have input into the team's future direction and introduce Noah to everyone. It was one of the best working days I have ever had and, for the team to be flexible with Noah in attendance, made it all the more enjoyable.
Noah has now started his own journey into day-care and I have transitioned into a new Superintendent role in the preparation plant. I now have an informal flex work arrangement with my Manager to work a nine day fortnight, where I can work from home one day every second week.
It was another transition and, again, had to find myself managing expectations with my team and my family, but I found the best way to do this was to be open and transparent with my Manager. While the perfect arrangement can't always be achieved right away, it's important that teams and leaders start the conversations.
It's impressive how the business has matured and promoted flexible work.
Without it, I believe that either Rachael or I would be unable to follow our professional and personal dreams. We don’t believe ours, or Noah’s quality of life, has been impacted by us both returning to work and, if anything, it has given us the assurance that the time we do spend together as a family is valued above all else.
We look forward to what the future holds with our family and with BHP.