As GE’s SVP of HR Susan Peters puts it, “A 125+ year old company can only survive if it is constantly re-engineering not just its product portfolio, but its culture as well. It allows employees to bring their best selves to work when we offer a positive experience in work life integration.”
What, specifically, is the company doing to make its female employees happy?
GE encourages flexible working arrangements that enable employees to individualize their schedules to maximize productivity. Among the options GE offers are flex time, part-time opportunities, job sharing, reduced hours, telecommuting, and remote work.
One GE employee, who has a 4-year-old daughter and a son in fourth grade, was moved by her manager’s response when she addressed her need to spend more time at home with her family. While she suspected she might need to resign, management responded by asking, “What can we do to help you get what you need without losing you?”
“We had an open and honest conversation, followed by some brainstorming, and an informal arrangement was agreed on,” she recalls. “I cannot describe what this meant to me in terms of feeling valued as an employee. My flexible role means working flexible hours, with a mix of office, home and customer sites. This arrangement allows me to drop the kids off at school and pick them up again in the afternoon.”
Providing Great Benefits
GE is continuing to adapt its benefits programs based on employee feedback. For example, it implemented a “Moms on the Move” program that enables moms who are nursing and traveling to arrange for GE to ship their breast milk to their baby.
After giving birth to or adopting a child, GE salaried employees can take up to 10 weeks of paid parental leave, and the company’s child/infant care benefits include tuition/registration savings and an expert who will research child care options that fit personal needs and location.
One woman, whose husband works at GE, penned a thank you note in response to the company’s parental benefits program: “As the wife of a GE engineer, and a first-time mother, I wanted to write to say thank you, thank you, thank you for the incredible opportunity of being able to have my husband at home with me for 6 weeks on paternity leave.
“Not only was he able to help care for me and our daughter Annie, but we had the ability to really bond and grow as a family,” she continued. “Annie got a chance to really know who her Daddy is and it was a wonderful time for my husband and I to reconnect in a new way. All of the benefits you provide your employees and their families truly are special and unique.”
GE also offers HealthAhead, a global wellbeing program that aims to inspire employees to achieve their best health possible through a culture that empowers and supports living a healthy, well-balanced life. The program includes fitness rebate opportunities and GE-sponsored on-site fitness facilities.
Presenting Great Career Opportunities
Jennifer B., who has worked at GE for 17 years, can attest to the fact that the company continues to provide its employees with a diverse array of opportunities. “The company continues to evolve to meet business and market needs; several of the jobs I have had did not even exist when I first joined,” she explains.
“I have used GE’s career navigation approach to define what success means to me, and I take advantage of the support and various tools and resources GE offers to find that ‘sweet spot’ where my interests and talents match with what GE needs at that time,” she says. “Almost every employee I talk to has a unique career story - the common theme is the incredible range of possibilities.”
Creating Development/Mentorship Opportunities
GE recognizes that investing in employees ultimately benefits everyone in the workplace – that’s why it invests $1.1BB annually in learning and development.
Performance Development (PD@GE), the company’s personalized approach to performance and development, includes coaching opportunities between employees and their managers, and in addition, GE offers a Leadership Practices course designed for women, by women. Furthermore, every promotion at GE comes with training, personal leadership assessment and a customized leadership development plan.
Offering Unlimited PTO
GE recognizes that in order to remain productive, employees need time off to relax and recharge with friends and family. That’s why the Company offers the permissive approach to paid time off. Rather than dictating a defined number of vacation, sick and personal days, GE allows employees to coordinate with their managers to take the time they need.
“The approach is a great method for keeping employees motivated, which means allowing them to maintain their personal matters,” says one employee. “I am pursuing a CPA certification and this will allow me to take time off as needed to study for exams.”
Another employee explains that GE’s permissive policy is “a simple and easy way for employees to feel empowered to manage their much-needed time to de-stress and reconnect physically, mentally and spiritually.”
“I can say that not only do I love my job, but I love what the company stands for, and one of those things is FAMILY, which has always been most important to me,” another employee adds.
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