Centrica - the benefits

Centrica/British Gas have led on innovative family friendly and flexible working practices and in 2004 were one of the first employers to set up a carers’ network. They reported quantified business benefits from their innovative flexible working programme, “work:wise”, in 2004 and from a subsequent study in 2007 on the impact of flexible working on performance. The company have had particular success in retaining engineers, whom they had identified as leaving the workplace. More recently, they have estimated potential cost savings of £2.5 million through increased staff retention and £4.5 million through reduced unplanned absenteeism (see more details here).

As winner of Business in the Community (BITC)’s ‘Championing an Ageing Workforce Award’ in 2015, the company was recognised by the judges for having: clear metrics in place to show where the programme of support had an impact; embedded the programme into the culture of the business; and the fact that the programme had been reviewed by all key stakeholders, and had had ‘sponsorship from the very top’.

The programme was championed by the then Managing Director of British Gas, Ian Peters and managed by the HR department.

From: Centrica case study published by BITC, July 2015
‘As well as direct support for carers, the programme includes line manager training and the development of a mentoring scheme. Managers are given training and information on caring, the difference between caring and childcare and internal support for carers. Through this, Centrica aims to develop behaviours which build a carer friendly working environment.

‘Centrica believes that there is a direct link between engagement, performance and retention. By supporting carers, the company has engaged and retained the high quality knowledge, skills and talent the organisation needs to thrive. It has saved an estimated £4.5 million in unplanned absenteeism and £2 million through retention'.

“Policies and practices that support carers are crucial to the resilience and success of our business. However, it is not only carers who need support – managers need to be aware of the issues working carers face, and to understand what is available to balance the needs of the business with those of the carer and other members of their teams. It is about knowing your employees and working flexibly with them to find solutions. At Centrica we strive to provide practical and sustainable ways to support carers and their managers.”

- Ian Peters, former Managing Director, British Gas

Flexible Boss profile: Ian Peters, chair of EfC and former Director of Customer Facing Strategy at Centrica, parent company of British Gas, tells Flexible Boss magazine that flexible working is one part of a strategy that makes complete business sense. 

Read the flexible boss profile here