During these challenging times, we're focused on protecting what makes us strong as a business. And that is: keeping our people healthy and safe, servicing the needs of our customers, and protecting our business to ensure Coca-Cola Amatil remains a regional beverages powerhouse for today and tomorrow.
"Protecting the health and safety of our people will always be our key priority," explains Coca-Cola Amatil's Group Director of People & Culture, Kate Mason. "As a leading employer, we believe we have an important role to play in supporting the physical, mental and financial health of our approx 16,000 strong workforce; providing reassurance for our people and their families when they need it most, and for the longer term.
"By working with our people to implement short term changes, together we will get through these challenging times, and continue to provide meaningful and productive employment for each of our employees, without compromising the financial strength of the business."
For those who are parenting young children or assuming caring responsibilities, this is a particularly challenging time. As one of our Australian-based People & Culture leaders, Stephen Langlands and his partner Sally are among those facing into the challenge of how to adapt their working lives to accommodate having a toddler at home for the foreseeable future.
With the support of Kate as his manager, Stephen has moved to working part-time for the coming months, allowing him to continue to play a vital role on Amatil's People & Culture Leadership Team, supporting the company as it navigates his period, and finding a sustainable solution that works for his family.
Here, Stephen shares his story and advice for other parents navigating today's challenging times.
Meet Stephen Langlands, People & Culture Leader for Strategy, Governance & Service Delivery
Tell us about your family
My partner Sally and I have a two-year-old toddler called Sam. We live in Sydney's lower north shore, Sally works three days a week and in normal times we balance childcare with Sally being at home a couple of days, childcare for two days and Sam's grandparents on a Friday.
Whilst Sam's childcare is still open at the moment, we decided we were no longer comfortable having him there. This has led to the challenge over recent weeks of having a toddler needing seven day a week supervision. Knowing that this isn't going to end overnight, it was important to us to find a sustainable way of caring for Sam, working and living.
What options did you consider?
Given current restrictions, keeping a two-year-old entertained and learning is quite a challenge! You not only need to keep permanent eyes on him, but you do want him to be enjoying himself, and continuing to develop.
From a flexibility perspective, I find Amatil has always been great in making sure people have the flexibility and technology to manage their work in a way that works for them, whether that means being flexible with hours or the ability to work from different locations.
Sally's work is also flexible, and for the first few weeks we managed through it. Most parents experience the juggle of working and looking after young children, adjusting your hours in turns to do shifts through the day, or catching up in the evenings. As long as you've got flexibility, you can kind of cope with these situations for the short term. We haven't dropped any balls yet, but we knew it wasn't sustainable.
I think the difficulty many parents are facing right now is the combination of pressures from a few fronts and for an extended period. It's not having access to or not feeling comfortable using your regular childcare, in a lot of cases not being able to rely as much, or at all, on grandparents because of the risk to their own safety, and on top of that knowing that it's not just a case of getting through for a few weeks. The reality is we need something that we can sustain for three or maybe six months.
Why did you choose part time?
When Sally and I sat down and worked through it, it just came down to the fact that flexibility on its own wasn't going to be enough for us. With one of us always going to be needed to look after Sam, we didn't have the hours in the day to accommodate me working full time, and also make sure that we're not putting too much strain on ourselves or each other's well being. It's also important to me that I do an equal share, so I reduced my days so that Sally and I can both continue to work, each working three days a week.
How did you go about it?
I talked to Kate as my manager and agreed to spread my time over the week – Monday, Wednesday and Friday - so that I stay connected given my key role on the People & Culture Leadership team, and so that I am available for the leaders that report into me. They also know where I am if they need input or a decision on Tuesdays or Thursdays, plus I'll be flexible with switching days to accommodate any critical meetings that need to happen.
I'm very grateful for the support of Kate and my team for this shift in my work pattern over the next few months and looking forward to continuing to do a lot of puzzles with Sam - 35 pieces is his current record which is pretty cool to see from a two-year-old!
How is it working out?
It is early days, but we are settling in to a good rhythm and everything feels more manageable and sustainable. We were initially concerned about taking a drop in pay, but the reality is we aren't spending much given the current confinement, so this shouldn't be too bad.
What advice would you give others?
Take the first step and have that conversation with your line manager. Be open, think about what might work for you and try and also think about how you can make it work for Amatil and your immediate team. Share your thoughts, talk though your options and be open about how you think you can make it work together.