Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) UK Ltd – Striking
the Work Life Balance!
Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) UK Ltd is the largest independent pharmaceutical
company. It forms part of a global corporation, headquartered in
The organisation aims to improve the health of people and animals through
the provision of high quality prescription medicines, natural health
and veterinary products.
|No. of permanent employees
907 (UK), 36,000 (worldwide)
|% women returning after maternity leave
It is essential that BI UK Ltd remains an employer of choice in
order to recruit and retain the best employees to meet its business
Employee feedback also indicated that employees value the opportunity
to work flexibly.
Therefore, the Company is faced with the challenge of providing
flexible working arrangements whilst continuing to meet business
and customer needs. The perception that flexible workers do not make
the same contribution as the rest of the team also needed to be addressed.
A project team was established to investigate and implement
more flexible ways of working. This team comprised members of the HR
division and representatives from the business who understood the real
potential impact of flexible working on the business.
First the business benefits of a work-life balance strategy was
summarised to the directors of BI. With their buy in, it has been
easier to implement the flexible working policies.
Potential barriers relating to flexible working have been overcome
by inviting employees who request to work flexibly to complete a
form to indicate the potential impact on the business and possible
Above all, the aim has been to promote a culture
where the focus is on performance rather than ‘presenteeism’.
Flexible working patterns and policies in operation
As a result of the work completed by the Flexible Working
Project Team, the following flexible working patterns and policies
have been developed or extended.
- Reduced hours (part time) working
- Rehabilitation programme (phased return to work following
long term sick leave)
- Community Spirit scheme (allows employees to spend 2 days
per year doing community work)
- Special Leave (e.g. for religious holidays/caring for
a dependant/marriage/moving house)
- Mental Well Being Policy and Well Being Room with massage
chair for stress
- Industrial Chaplain (visits fortnightly)
- Healthy Living initiatives such as no smoking day
- Increased talent pool
- Employees more likely to return from maternity leave
- Retention of key skills and experience, which results in reduced
- Decreased sickness absence
- Improved productivity by measuring performance and rewarding
employees according to achievement and contribution to the business
rather than presenteeism in the office
- Overall improved well-being of employees
Flexible working arrangements are
taken up by employees across the company, provided they are still
able to meet business and customer requirements. These arrangements
are beneficial for those with child care responsibilities and people
who value a better work-life balance.
The Head of HR Operations, reporting to the
HR Director, has worked for BI for 6 years.
“Working reduced hours allows me to achieve
more of a balance between my work and spending time with my children.
That is, I spend 4 days at work, 3 at home. This time with the children
at such an early stage of their development is invaluable.”
The Technology Specialist, has been with BI
for 10 years. He works flexi-time.
“The flexi-time policy in operation within BI enables
me to start work early and then leave at 3pm each day. This means
that I am able to spread tasks for my personal life to weekdays which,
without flexible working, I would have to cram in to a Saturday.
In the summer I am able to take advantage of the nicer weather, lighter
evenings and enjoy a better social life!”
The BI Flexible Working policies and
patterns are monitored to facilitate continuous improvement.
The Company will continue to strive towards best practice and the
need for a work-life balance will remain at the top of the business
Above all, the Company aims not only to pay lip service to such initiatives,
but to promote a culture where the focus is on high performance rather