At uvex, a family-friendly company, there has long been an emphasis on striking a balance between life at home and life at work. Thorsten Rauch, Head of Customer Service GKA at uvex, recounts his time at the company, illustrating just how this corporate identity is brought to life.

Modern fathers

Thorsten Rauch belongs to the generation of modern fathers who have totally different professional and private priorities than fathers in previous generations. According to a study conducted by Väter GmbH which investigated the phenomenon of “modern fathers”, fathers today more often consciously put their kids before work, are more engaged in raising their children and are far more involved in family activities and the lives of their offspring. Overall, 36% of respondents in a representative survey conducted by FOCUS which interviewed 3,000 men stated that they would like to work less. Only 5% and 10% of respondents respectively placed their career and increased salary as their main professional priority. Nevertheless, for many men, their job remains an essential part of their identity which is in no way losing importance.

The shift in needs and interests to make us happier in our private lives is in direct contrast to professional duties in the working world, which can occasionally cause tension with employers if the company has failed to react adequately to these societal changes. Employer flexibility and new working time models which do not interfere with the time directly after a child is born or “partner months”, thereby allowing families to independently manage their time spent together more effectively, are in demand.

Custom solutions

When Thorsten Rauch made the decision to take paternal leave, it came from a desire to actively experience and see first-hand how his children grow and develop over time. “I wanted to be there for my children right from the word go and not just get involved when they’re halfway to adulthood. They develop so quickly in the first few years. I wanted to make sure I saw this for myself. I also wanted to ease the burden for my wife. It’s important to me to also be a strong pillar in terms of internal family politics.”

Before Thorsten Rauch shared the happy news of his wife’s pregnancy with his employer, he discussed the situation with his wife and worked out how their little “Rauch family business” should be handled so that neither his job nor his family felt neglected. It quickly became clear that a few months of paternal leave in addition to a customised work schedule including working from home part-time was needed – and this for a someone in a management position! Thorsten Rauch knew that he was asking a lot.

Business is People

After speaking with his wife, Thorsten Rauch approached his boss and the HR department somewhat nervously. However, he can look back happily on their response today: “The reaction from uvex and particularly the HR department was very positive. Their happiness and support were clear. I suspect my boss was initially in two minds, but given that he too is a father, he was very accommodating in his reaction. After all, there is an emphasis on Business is People.” Colleagues were also keen to show their support: “There was a full range of emotions, from happiness to understanding, best wishes and surprise. All without any hint of negativity.”

take, take, enjoy!

From here on in, Thorsten Rauch became the first port of call for colleagues interested in the subject of parental leave. His most important piece of advice was simply: “Step 1: Take. Step 2: Take. Step 3: Enjoy! There is no good reason not to do it. In this hectic, success-oriented world, time is by far our most important commodity. You can’t turn back the clock, and the time spent with a baby, especially just after birth, lays irrevocable foundations for future relationships. Babies are incredibly sensitive.”

Consequently, Thorsten Rauch experienced huge support in nearly all aspects: “This included proficient consultancy covering all aspects of parental leave, providing all the required applications, a one-off optional payment on birth, leave of absence on the day of the birth and an individually designed card offering congratulations with a separate birthday gift.” Moreover, uvex cooperates with the AWO crèche and offers regular holiday care. And that was not all! Thorsten’s request for an individual work schedule was ratified in full. He subsequently worked a four-day week including one day a week from home. Thorsten describes this solution as a win-win situation for himself: “The individual working time model represented a shift, above all for my uvex colleagues. You quickly adapt to a new rhythm and particularly during parental leave I used my smartphone far more often – so I was always contactable. Eventually, you learn to improve your time management and efficiency, as well as becoming more decisive in everything you do. In addition, my colleagues showed a great deal of consideration for me and took me under their wings where and when they were able. This naturally creates a good team environment.”

No career interruption of any sort

Despite the new arrival at home, Thorsten Rauch is continuing to climb the career ladder. While before the birth of his first child Thorsten was a customer service manager responsible for four employees, since 2016 he has been Head of Customer Service Global Key Accounts personally responsible for nine employees. Thorsten has his employers, who have always shown him great appreciation, to thank for this positive development. “It reflects well on the professionalism of a company like uvex that taking my paternal leave didn’t stop my career dead in the tracks. I never got the feeling that it would do, nor was it ever presented to me as such in any way.”

Thorsten Rauch is convinced that the mutual trust between himself and uvex, as well as the willingness on both sides to find harmonious, flexible family-orientated solutions with employer-specific requirements, is the best thing that could have happened to him and his little family business.

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