Is your employer this flexible when life takes unexpected twists?

October 5, 2023
flexible employers

If your life took an unexpected turn, how flexible would your employer be about your working arrangements?

At AngloGold Ashanti (AGAA), flexible working means more than a four-day week or compressed hours. At AGAA they understand that life is unpredictable and that sometimes priorities shift.

AGAA looks at each employee’s situation on a case-by-case basis to find the best set-up that works for everyone – so you can fully meet your needs outside of work, while also being effective in your professional role.

“So much talent and experience can be retained within the business if we take a flexible approach to working and use the technology available to us!”

As Manager of Environmental Operations across Australia, Rosemarie ‘Rose’ Lane is passionate about ensuring everyone can flourish, whatever stage of life they’re at. If someone in her team is facing challenges outside the workplace, she believes there’s always a way to make it work by designing a role bespoke to their needs.

It’s not one-size-fits-all

What makes AGAA stand out in its approach to flexible working is the way they treat each employee’s circumstances as unique.

“In my twenty-six years in mining, and especially on FIFO sites, I’ve seen some very prescriptive approaches. It used to be that people had to return to their exact role after taking a period of leave. But when that wasn’t practical for an individual the only option was to leave the company entirely – but I know it can be done better. AGAA have shown it is possible to be better.”

Rose understands this more than most, when she received the life-changing news of her partner’s terminal diagnosis back in 2014.

Following the diagnosis, Rose’s focus was, of course, on prioritizing her family’s needs, and when she returned to AGAA in 2021 they did everything they could to support her.

flexible employers

AGAA demonstrated genuine understanding and unconditional support for me, recognizing the importance of family as my top priority. Together, we worked out an arrangement that would best accommodate my circumstances.”

Rose had already known she was working for a great company in AGAA, but their response to her situation confirmed those feelings:

“It reinforced my sense of belonging within the organization and emphasized AngloGold Ashanti’s commitment to employees bringing their entire selves to work.”

As well as AngloGold Ashanti’s impressive flexible working arrangements and diversity and inclusion policies, they have several career development initiatives.

Find out more about these and other employee benefits.

Being flexible about flexible working

For flexible working to be truly flexible, it also needs to be adaptable. While caring for her partner, rather than having any kind of formal flexible working plan, Rose adjusted her hours and working location depending on what was going on at the time.

“I’ve always had fantastic managers and we’ve had mutual trust and respect for each other and the company. AGAA has given me full flexibility, as I have shown that I can deliver the work. While I was caring for my partner, I moved to Perth so I could work part-time and someone else was seconded into my superintendent role.”

Currently, two people in her own team have recently returned from parental leave and both have individual plans to suit their situations and careers. One started back in a part-time capacity and once she felt ready, returned to full-time site work. The other relocated across country to be closer to family support, and now works remotely with four on-site days each quarter.

“To meet the needs of her family, the days she works are fully flexible depending on whatever is on that week or if anything ad-hoc has come up. We have full trust in her making those decisions for herself and she has recently received a promotion!”

Rose says it’s also important to recognize that flexible working options need to extend beyond the needs of working parents – as she herself has experienced.

“The industry needs to consider a broader range of circumstances that may necessitate flexibility, such as caring for sick or elderly family members, pursuing further education, or even being a professional athlete.”

Making flexible working work

When managed effectively, the benefits of flexible working are obvious, but there are some potential pitfalls that need to be considered too.

Rose says some employees are wary of when taking advantage of flexible working because they actually end up working more hours than initially agreed. One of the reasons she thinks this can happen is that managers don’t actually “see the hours you’re working as you’re not visible in the office or on site.” She thinks this can also make managers nervous about agreeing to flexible working arrangements. Not being physically present can also affect “how people see you in the business” and it can sometimes lead to “feelings of disconnect in the team.”

Thankfully, there are some simple strategies AGAA adopts to ensure everyone feels comfortable, supported, and appreciated:

“We educate managers and supervisors in flexible work arrangements, and we open them up to everyone – not only parents. We ensure that their environment and team can support them, and regularly check in to ensure the current set-up is still working for everyone. We include video links for all meetings and, if applicable, arrange quarterly site visits to keep in touch with the rest of the team.”

Flexibility means more equality

In Rose’s experience, adopting a flexible approach to working patterns is a sure way to create a more inclusive environment throughout the workplace.

Rose Lane_AGAA

“Encouraging and enabling men to take parental leave not only fosters gender equality but also promotes a healthy work-life balance for all parents. By embracing this cultural shift, organizations create an environment where parental leave is a widely accepted practice, free from any doubt or questioning.”

Adopting more flexibility around working arrangements at AGAA also means people can feel confident and comfortable to be fully themselves in all areas of their lives. As a member of the leadership teams for AGAA’s OurPride, AGAA LGBTQIA+ ERG and the Inclusion, Diversity and Equity committee, this is something that rings especially true for Rose.

While at AGAA, Rose has seen great career progression, but it’s the supportive, inclusive, and forward-thinking approach of the company that has kept her there for nine years.

“The culture at AGAA makes me feel very included and it’s why I love working here. The dynamic nature of my role enables me to have a better understanding of the different sites and cultures across the business. We are a global business, but in Australia it feels more like family – a family that supports each other even when times get tough.”

Want to learn more about the benefits of a career at AngloGold Ashanti Australia?

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About the Author

Jacynta Clayton’s career started in recruitment advertising and employer branding, working with global clients to create and deploy strategic and creative content. Now she combines her industry experience with the knowledge from her psychology and professional writing degrees to write unique and resounding stories. As a WORK180 storyteller she relishes the opportunity to elevate the voices and experiences of so many amazing people, while also empowering and educating audiences on how to choose a workplace where they can thrive.

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