Success Factor Family
- What the press are saying - SEMIKRON and family-friendliness
Family-friendly company: SEMIKRON
Relax or learn English?
- Article by Alexandra Mayerhöfer, © NÜRNBERGER ZEITUNG, June 2005 -
The Chamber of Commerce (IHK) and the Alliance for Families appealed to companies to participate in the “Success Factor Family” competition initiated by the then German Minister for Family Affairs, Renate Schmidt. SEMIKRON International GmbH was one of the 15 companies from across the region to enter the competition.
If there is no other option, Dad has to hand both of their small children over to Mum at SEMIKRON GmbH’s doors at shift changeover. He then starts his late shift and she takes the children back home. This is not really a family-friendly arrangement, which is why a daycare facility is an absolute must, says Bettina Heidenreich-Martin, and should be set up as quickly as possible to avoid such “anything goes” situations.
For two years now, this mother of three and qualified pedagogue has been attending to the construction of a new daycare facility to make sure such problems are soon a thing of the past. “Simply because it annoyed me that there were no sensible child-care options”, she says. Her first daughter was born while she was still a student herself. In those days, the chances of finding a crèche were next to none. Today, Ms. Heidenreich-Martin is convinced that she is not the only one who needs daycare for her children.
Shift-work isn’t the only problem
Two thirds of the almost 1,000 employees at SEMIKRON’s headquarters in Nuremberg work in manufacturing. In the majority, women manufacture power modules for wind power stations, trams or elevators. Shift-work is, by far, not the only problem in combining work and family. According to personnel advisor Cora Endres, “for financial reasons alone, a part-time position is for many quite simply not an option”. She is one of the remaining third of SEMIKRON staff that don’t work in manufacturing and also one of the 51 part-time employees in the company.
She works on Mondays, Wednesdays and half a day on Fridays, taking care of her three-year-old child the rest of the time. After two and a half years of working from home with just a few hours in the office, she is happy to be back with her colleagues at work. “Having had such a communication-intensive job, the first six months at home were difficult,” she says. On average, after just six months, many of the mothers employed by SEMIKRON return to work from their maternity leave.
Of the eight academics who have recently become mothers, all of them are now either back at their desks or are equipped to work from home. Daniela Lieber, Head of Personnel is proud, not only of this, but also of the fact that young women who want to have children are unquestionably still taken on at SEMIKRON.
“In one of my final interviews, a physicist asked me directly what my views were on the subject of family”, she recalls. The candidate said that she planned to have a child in two or three years and was still offered the post. “Five years ago, this might have made us think twice”, the Head of Personnel admits. The “Work and the Family” competition has helped ensure that many aspects of a family-friendly environment have become more visible, although the competition itself was by no means the reason behind the company’s social engagement, Lieber recalls. In three generations of this family business, people have never been seen as a pure production factor. The employee as a private individual has always played a more important role here than elsewhere. “To really live family-friendliness is actually more important to us than an audit”, says the Head of Personnel. Confirmation of this policy is in the many family relationships that can be found within the company’s workforce.
SEMIKRON is deemed to be a reliable employer. The emphasis here, however, is not on a single measure, but rather on the sum of little things such as a starter pack with lovely baby things for new parents, the book “Nuremberg and Fürth for Children”, day-trips for staff and their families and the social commitment displayed by each and every one of us.
Of course, flexibility through working-from-home arrangements and part-time positions with models ranging from 8-30 hours a week also play an important role.
“A necessary step for the whole of society is, and remains, however, the question of child-care”, emphasises Ms. Heidenreich-Martin. Her vision of a daycare facility sees the creation of “something stable alongside a child’s home” and the sweeping away of the stigma of mothers who have to constantly shuttle their children between neighbours, childminders and Grandma.
Would you rather be in the music room than in the garden?
In the planned daycare facility, the construction of which is currently hanging on the approval of funding from Nuremberg’s municipal authorities and the Bavarian state authorities, a crèche and kindergarten will be integrated into one. In this way, 74 children can attend for a number of years and “grow into it”. The children can decide what they want to do whilst Mum and Dad are working: from a media room to a workshop, a quiet room to a music room and garden, no wishes should remain unfulfilled. Movable partitions allow for a variety of activities; whether foreign language learning or teaching in general, nothing is off-limits. Ms. Heidenreich-Martin had no particular role model in mind for the facility - what she does know is: “The time is right”.