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Sustainability stories:

Welfare

Improve the well-being of employees and their families

Welfare initiatives become strategic in company policies

The concept of Welfare is increasingly crucial in the 21st century world of business. Created at different times and with different characteristics from country to country, it is now going through an important phase of development in Europe and other parts in the world. More and more small, medium and large enterprises are opting to concentrate on the wellbeing of their employees and families. In order to support this initiative, in 2016 Generali launched the Welfare Index PMI to assess the level of corporate welfare in Italian small and medium enterprises. Over the years, this index has gone on to analyse an increasingly wide-ranging basket of SMEs, from 2,140 in 2016 to over 4,500 in 2019. Welfare initiatives in Europe feature various models, which can be summarised in two large macro-categories: “low incidence welfare”, present mainly in Northern European countries where state assistance meets most individual and family needs; and “high incidence welfare”. Welfare initiatives have multiplied due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with many examples in Europe and particularly in countries with “high incidence” systems. These systems allow companies to maintain a margin of development in order to accommodate the growing demand from employees for health care, training and family support. Examples include the Belgian company Familiehulp, which for several years has offered a “co-parental” contract to separated employees with children. The concept is simple: parents may chose to work fewer hours per week when their children are at home with them, and more hours per week when they stay with the other parent. The contract also provides solutions for school holidays. Familiehulp is also working on two additional contracts: the “school day” contract, which adjusts work hours to school hours, and the “school year” contract, which stipulates that employees work less during school holidays. Still in Europe, an example of particular interest is that of the Finnish Helsinki Capital Partners, an asset manager comprising of top notch investing skills, transparent pricing and respect for clients.  The company has been awarded for two consecutive years (2018 and 2019) as “Best for Workers” by B Lab, an independent non-profit organisation,  thanks to its working practices such as ownership opportunities, a flat pay structure, flexible work, and freedom to participate in #HCPSPIRIT community projects.

An example of initiatives implemented by an Italian company for employee wellbeing comes from  B + B International, a software house founded in 1993 and which remained operational in smart working throughout the period of the Covid emergency. During the lockdown, the company gave children’s fairy tales to employees’ children. Furthermore, to allow the children of employees to follow distance learning, an agreement has been signed with a computer store to help parents purchase the necessary supports.