Working parents often find it difficult to balance the demands of their personal and professional commitments.
Talking about her return to Zühlke, Chloé says she particularly appreciated getting the space to reorient herself when re-joining a team.
When asked about how Zühlke supports working parents, the first thing that comes to mind for Jan is flexibility.
To both Chloé and Jan, balancing the demands of a career and parenthood has been more navigable thanks to the Zühlke culture. Neither feels that they’ve had any special accommodations made for them, but rather they’re given an equal opportunity to perform at their best at work.
Parenthood is an important part of life for many people. But despite this, it’s not always easy to reconcile it with career aspirations. Working parents often find it difficult to balance the demands of their personal and professional commitments and, in some countries, prospective mothers particularly fear their careers ‘stalling'. This is something recent research has shown to be the case in the UK, for example, where many new mothers find it can take up to 10 years to get their careers back on track after they return from maternity leave.
The situation for working parents varies across different countries and that means we as an employer play a role in providing all our people with the opportunity to succeed, at all life phases, wherever they’re based. It’s with this in mind that we spoke to two parents from our team: Chloé Labarre, a Senior Agile Business Analyst in the UK, and Jan Siegmann, an Advanced UX Engineer in Germany. We wanted to get an insight into their experiences of working while also raising young children, and how they’ve drawn on the support on offer at Zühlke along the way.
Finding Their Feet
For Chloé, her motherhood journey is closely tied to her time at Zühlke. “I started my job on a Monday, and found out I was pregnant that same day,” she laughs. She had her daughter in 2021 and returned after taking six months of maternity leave, joining a project on a reduced number of hours. Jan, on the other hand, had been working with us for slightly longer before finding out about his impending fatherhood. His daughter was born when he had been with Zühlke for a year, and is now two and half. In Germany, parental leave can be split between both parents, so he took nine months off to spend with his daughter after his wife had taken her share. Like Chloé, he also came back to a shorter workweek.
Talking about her return to Zühlke, Chloé says she particularly appreciated getting the space to reorient herself when re-joining a team. “I felt really supported and there wasn’t pressure to take on a full-time role straight away – I could go at my own pace and get back into things,” she says. Jan’s experience was similar. “It was great being able to have that time with my daughter and, from a work perspective, it was completely unproblematic,” he explains. Since coming back on board, he has also recently taken on the role of UX Capability Owner, where he ensures that we have the appropriate UX skill set available on the projects. This step is another testament to the fact that career growth opportunities are there, even when working fewer hours per week.
Shaping Their Schedules
When asked about how Zühlke supports working parents, the first thing that comes to mind for Jan is flexibility. He says he appreciates the ability to set up his day in a way that complements his role as a father. To him, it’s all about managing expectations and making sure you’re available when you’re needed. He also explains that it’s generally linked to the Zühlke culture. Many of his colleagues choose a more flexible schedule for a variety of reasons, like pursuing hobbies or other personal interests. “You don’t stand out because you're organising your time around your family,” he concludes.
Similarly, Chloé sees the relative autonomy she has to structure her work day as highly empowering, saying, “It’s allowed me to make the choices I wanted to make around bringing up my child.” Like Jan, she also thinks of it as a two-way relationship. She explains how she can set her schedule in a way that works for her, but now she’s more aware of other people’s needs too.
“We’re good at integrating into our colleagues' life patterns at Zühlke, and mine just happens to involve my daughter,” she says.
Growing careers. Growing families.
Talking to the sentiment towards working parents at Zühlke more generally, Chloé explains that in her experience, it’s just seen as a part of life. It’s not something others feel they’re making an exception for. Jan’s perspective in Germany has been similar, and he didn’t face pressure either way when his daughter was born.
“I was told I could take as much or as little leave as I needed – it’s a non-judgemental culture,” he says.
Describing the financial support for parents, Jan mentions the €120 childcare voucher available for Zühlkees in Germany. “It shows me that it’s an important topic to the company,” he comments. These benefits vary by country but we are trying to make parenthood as seamless as possible for all of our people. In the UK, for example, our maternity leave benefit was recently revised so that new mothers are able to get their full salary payments for the first six months off, provided they have been with us for over a year.
To both Chloé and Jan, balancing the demands of a career and parenthood has been more navigable thanks to the Zühlke culture. Neither feels that they’ve had any special accommodations made for them, but rather they’re given an equal opportunity to perform at their best at work. Jan even concludes his thinking by saying his role as a father has taught him skills he can take back to the business. “I try and bring some of the curiosity and eagerness I see in my daughter to my job – and working shorter days, I've definitely learned to be more productive,” he laughs.
Want to know more about our people-centric culture or explore other insights about careers here at Zühlke? Find all the career information you need here