Flexibility in the workplace is something that benefits everybody. There might be a misconception that those who need it the most are parents and guardians but in truth, every individual has something going on in their life that would be made easier with flexibility. Medibank offers its employees FlexBetter, which allows individuals to incorporate flexibility into their work days depending on their personal needs.
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Alison Nathan, Employee Wellbeing Lead, was fortunate enough to have flexibility during a time of need.
“In 2015, my parents had come over for a visit from the UK and while they were here, my dad suffered a mild heart attack. During this time, my mum also found a lump in her breast. Being able to have flexibility and knowing that work would support me meant that I could be with my parents at the time.”
Alison’s parents headed home to the UK after their visit and it wasn’t until then that her mother was officially diagnosed with Breast Cancer. With her dad still recovering from the heart attack, Alison toyed with the idea of going over to help out.
“I decided that I would go as a surprise. I figured, I’m never going to need to take time off to look after children so maybe there’s a possibility that I’ll be allowed to take some time to go care for my parents.”
Alison with her parents.
Every person is different and not everybody has the same plans with their lives. Alison realised that there may be a chance that she could have a slightly different version of parental leave – caring for her parents.
“I wrote an e-mail to my manager asking if she could consider my reasons why I wanted the leave. She then talked it over with our People & Culture Senior Leaders, and they both had absolutely no problem with it. It was just fantastic.”
Alison with her Wellbeing and Community team.
While in the UK to look after her parents, Alison helped her mum organise an afternoon tea with the neighbours, fundraising for breast cancer. It took a bit of convincing from Alison but in the end, it was a day well spent.
“At first, mum was a bit nervous about it because she thought people would just think that she was jumping on the bandwagon but we ended up raising around $600! Afterwards, her neighbours even asked us if they could do it on a regular basis so I think after that, mum definitely had let go of all her worries.”
FlexBetter takes into consideration everybody’s individual circumstances as well as their different needs. For Alison’s mum, the surprise of her daughter being with her during her recovery was nothing short of amazing.
“My mum said it was the best medicine she could’ve ever been given. She wrote a letter to my manager and Senior Leaders to say thank you so much because it was just the best thing ever. To me, it just meant so much that I could be there for her.”
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and as Alison has experienced first hand, that sometimes just being there for someone who is going through it goes beyond what we expect. Take the time to be there for them because sometimes, that’s all that’s needed.