Agency network WPP AUNZ has launched what it is dubbing a “market-leading” parental leave policy for both primary and secondary carers, as part of a revamped talent retention and attraction policy.
The new policy, which will apply initially to its 100 per cent owned Australian agencies, will see employees paid up to 16 weeks full salary depending on length of tenure.
After just one year of service, employees will be offered 12 weeks full pay. Secondary carers will be provided four weeks full pay after two years of service, and two weeks after just one year.
WPP AUNZ chief executive Mike Connaghan said: “As an industry, we are losing talented, strong and experienced people to other sectors because they may not see it as either family friendly or a viable long-term option.
“This needs to change. We need to recognise that to have a truly diverse workplace. We need to have people from a variety of backgrounds and life stages. We need to ensure that our people have every opportunity to balance work, family and other responsibilities.
“The time to act is now, and as an industry leader, we are proud to take this initiative.”
Connaghan said the new policy, which will take effect from 1 January 2019, was developed after benchmarking Australian industry standards, teamed with a close examination of what staff need and want.
“We believe this policy is among the best in the industry, and it is all part of our commitment to diversity and inclusion and making sure everyone has the chance to balance work and family,” he said.
“We hope it will also encourage employees to see WPP AUNZ as a long-term career option that is supportive through all different phases of life.”
WPP AUNZ’s parental leave policy is part of a raft of sweeping changes the agency network has introduced during the past 12 months, as it aims to be a market-leader in employee engagement and talent attraction.
These include a company-wide diversity and inclusion survey to benchmark expectations, the introduction of a bespoke training programme called The Academy, the introduction of MyTime (a flexible working arrangement), the use of alternative recruitment arrangements to ensure a diverse workplace including Career Seekers, Career Trackers and Talent Rise, and Walk the Talk – a globally-proven WPP initiative to help women grow and thrive in their careers.
WPP AUNZ has also now implemented one of the country’s largest corporate wellbeing programs available to all 5,500 employees across the group, signed up to the Diversity Council of Australia.
The group is also currently running pilot trials of blind recruitment among several key agencies to eliminate unconscious bias.
WPP AUNZ’s chief HR and talent officer, Elissa Good-Omozusi, said: “As a growing, thriving industry, we face many challenges, but none greater than making sure our people – who are the lifeblood of our business – feel valued and part of something bigger.
“To meet these challenges, we’ve taken many important steps this year, but we realise we need to go further. We know companies with supportive family policies have lower levels of sick leave and improved employee morale.
“And importantly for our business, they also have a positive impact on staff retention and engagement. Our new parental leave policy simply makes sense. We’re incredibly excited about its introduction and look forward to seeing it in action.”
Good-Omozusi said while the policy would only apply to 100 per cent owned WPP AUNZ agencies in Australia to begin with, the organisation was also investigating best practice in New Zealand for the future.