The insurance firm and cruise ship operator for individuals over 50, Saga, has made a radical move to offer its staff a week of paid grandparental leave—the first in the UK to do so. The firm also promises to open its nursery to grandchildren to support those of their staff who are already working grandparents.
This change follows an internal survey that revealed that a quarter of Saga staff found it “difficult” to balance work with childcare commitments, combined with research by Oxford University that showed how grandparents’ involvement could “significantly” improve the wellbeing of a child.
The perk also “makes business sense,” as companies struggle to retain staff. As Justine Roberts, founder of website Gransnet says, “Employers who recognize the fact that their employees have relationships and responsibilities outside of work will reap the rewards of increased loyalty and staff wellbeing.”
According to Jane Storm, chief people officer at Saga, offering grandparental leave is “also a symbol of how important older workers are to their companies and to society. Working life is getting longer, but the first question many people over 50 still hear is ‘when are you going to retire?’
“We want to change that mindset and show that age is no barrier to continued professional success. As a purpose-led business, we have a responsibility to build a representative, multigenerational workforce fit for the future, that serves the needs of our customers.”
She goes on to say that most of the company’s clients are over 50, and it’s only right that their team reflects the community they serve.
The Oxford research also reveals the increasing number of grandparents becoming more involved in the lives of the grandchildren. One of the authors of the study, Julia Griggs, explains that grandparents are likely “providing more support and exerting a greater influence on their grandchildren’s future than in the past… [as] a result of wider social and demographic changes: longer, healthier lives; mothers’ participation in the labor market; large numbers of children living in lone-parent and step-families.”
The appearance of other new, non-cash-based incentives such as the four-day workweek (without pay cuts), and the implementation of week-long company-wide vacations also echoes the push for companies to avoid worker burnout, a leading contributor to what is being called “the great resignation.”
Hopefully, as we shift towards a more mindful and connected approach to work, companies will continue to make moves that value their employees as people with obligations and relationships outside the workplace, and not simply cogs in a machine.