MIA Member Warwick Music have shared an insightful article about their company culture. Here, they explain why flexible and remote working, and training and upskilling staff is so important to them. The MIA often share HR updates and tips, but this is a real MI example of a businesses flexible approach to working and its commitment to investing in its people…
Warwick Music Group make quality brass instruments. We do this because we want to make the joy of music accessible and fun. It’s what drives us to do what we do, and why we are serious about doing it right.
As a company that create instruments that are designed to fit in and around family life, we extend that attitude to how we behave as a business; the ethos of doing things not just because we can, but because we should, is what we strive for regardless of whether this is visible to the outside world.
One aspect where this is particularly true for me is the company’s flexible approach to working and its commitment to investing in its people. Many companies say they support flexible working, but in our case we actually mean it! We employ more part time staff than full time, work remotely, and it is ‘company policy’ that if you are a parent, Mum or Dad, you are expected and encouraged to attend their Sports Days, Christmas Nativities and class assemblies.
When I spoke with Katie, our Finance Manager, she agreed. ‘Working at WMG is most definitely a break from the ‘norm’ offering the freedom to perform in my role and perform as a parent as well.’ she said. ‘Early on in my employment I was intrigued by the flexibility and it certainly took some getting used to (most work places say they do it but in reality the culture doesn’t support what they say) but I’m pleased to say that I really feel that I am able to balance out the various demands of parenting and work without the ‘fear factor’!’
Lucy, our General Manager shared with me her perspective. ‘I returned to work after a year’s maternity leave and was fortunate to be offered a new job which allowed flexible working to fit around childcare.’ She said. ‘Having previously been commuting into London for a work which involved regular evenings and weekends, this sounded perfect. Working for a business that understands the demands of being parent (whether a Mum or Dad!) and allows flexibility around work to ensure that family life is not compromised is quite unusual.’
Digital Mums, a training company who specialise in getting mums job-ready for flexible careers recently conducted research on women returning to work after having had children. Their report highlights the skills gap they often face (see the executive summary) and shares how taking time out, or even working part time, can result in missing out on training and learning opportunities which effects both their career and confidence.
Warwick Music Group not only operates flexible and remote working, it supports staff with opportunities to develop their career, upskill or learn something entirely new. Over the last year staff have attended training courses, studied for qualifications and even had complete changes of career!
Chief of Staff Kate said ‘in my nine years working for WMG I have not only been offered invaluable flexibility to work around my three young children; I have also been privileged to work in numerous different roles. Working part time as well as having the opportunity to take on new challenges keeps things fresh and engaging, and has enabled me to gain the skills I use in my current role.’
Julie, our Publishing Manager said ‘after having my family and living overseas Warwick Music Group enabled me to get back into the work place. I now use my skills and knowledge from my music degree and experience as a primary school deputy head, classroom teacher, youth band director and performer in a completely new career that gives me invaluable flexibility to fit work and family life.’
Flexible working and development opportunities are things that many companies preach, less companies practice and in which few industries excel. Despite organisations such as SWIM, the Music Industry in particular is still lagging behind in making a concerted effort to involve more women.
Our company recognises that they are not simply employing a skill set or CV, but a person. As Lucy says ‘I am fortunate to work for an innovative business and I have such an appreciation for this that I would never look to abuse it.’
By giving the freedom to be there for your children while trusting you to deliver in your job Warwick Music Group not only behaves in a way that is open minded and trusting, it benefits from a loyal, dedicated and engaged team in return – I’d strongly recommend it!