Defying the skills shortage with family-friendly HR policies: The Family-Friendly HR Policy Research Centre at Münster University publishes a study on family-friendly measures at Münster University Hospital

The Family-Friendly HR Policy Research Centre at Münster University publishes a study on family-friendly measures at Münster University Hospital

Can family-friendly measures undertaken by companies can be innovative and, at the same time, a worthwhile social investment? This is the question asked in a study just published entitled “Balancing career and family with the audit berufundfamilie programme – a case study at Münster University Hospital”. The Family-Friendly HR Policy Research Centre (FFP) at Münster University produced the study in cooperation with the University’s Institute of Political Science, as part of the EU project “InnoSI” (Innovative Social Investment – Strengthening Communities in Europe). The example of Münster University Hospital (UKM) shows that family-friendly measures can be seen as an advantage in the competition to attract and keep skilled employees.

Setting up a central contact office

The study comes to the conclusion that what is particularly impressive is the gathering together of all the various support measures on offer in one central place. “Many companies offer family-friendly measures, but the internal FamilienServiceBüro (Family Services Office) as a central contact office for employees is especially innovative,” says Corinna Schein, who works at the FFP Research Centre and is one of the people who worked on the study. The FamilienServiceBüro gives advice on all sorts of questions relating to career-family balance, providing information for employees on, for example, childcare facilities, possibilities for making working times more flexible, parental leave and parental allowance, as well as ways of balancing work and care for family members. The FamilienServiceBüro has the support of a special cooperation network involving external service providers, enabling it for example to offer additional childcare facilities over and above the University’s own daycare centre. The statistics show that the FamilienServiceBüro has been well received among the University Hospital’s staff: within five years there has been a threefold rise in the use of its advisory services.

Strengthening the image

“Not only do the family-friendly measures at the University Hospital enable staff to achieve a better balance between work and family life – they also strengthen the Hospital’s family-friendly image,” says Corinna Schein. “After all, the importance of family-friendly measures in choosing a job or career is increasing. That means that companies which invest in family-friendly measures have a clear advantage in times of skills shortages.”

The case study also shows that line managers are an important factor in the introduction of innovative measures. They can support their people as far as work-family balance goes – but they can also just as easily make it difficult for them. This is why UKM is working to increase managers’ awareness, for example through training measures.”

Certification by the berufundfamilie audit

Since 2010, the introduction of family-friendly measures at UKM has been accompanied by the berufundfamilie audit. The audit team, an external organization, examines and assesses the Hospital’s implementation of its aims. Because UKM has been successful in its efforts, its certificate was verified after the re-audit process.

The project

The “InnoSI” project (Innovative Social Investment – Strengthening Communities in Europe) is being led by the Policy Evaluation and Research Unit at Manchester Metropolitan University and involves another nine European Universities. The project asks how robust social investment strategies can be developed which take account of the socioeconomic challenges existing in the wake of the financial crisis. The focus of the research being undertaken is not only on the legal and financial frameworks for innovative social welfare policy, but also on the role played by private and non-profit-making players. To this end, a quantitative comparative study was carried out in 28 EU countries, with evaluative case studies also being undertaken in ten EU states. InnoSI is being funded by the European Commission as part of the Horizon 2020 programme.

Translated from German by Ken Ashton

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