Zurich Insurance: Celebrating part-time working improved employee application figures overnight

Since 2019, Zurich Insurance has quadrupled (28% vs 104%) the number of employees hired on a part-time basis after altering their wording on job adverts to celebrate part-time, job shares, and flexible working across all departments.

Related topics:  Zurich Insurance,  Part-Time Employment
Tabitha Lambie | Editor, Protection Reporter
9th April 2024
Part Time Zurich Insurance
"We’re proud to see that we’re supporting peoples’ career growth with internal promotions, whilst also accommodating their flexible working arrangements."
- Steve Collinson, Chief People Officer at Zurich UK

Five years ago, Zurich Insurance partnered with the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) to understand the gender pay gap. “It was already pretty clear to us that a lack of opportunities for women in senior technical or leadership roles (and a lack of representation in that calibre of role) was one of the driving factors of this gap,” explained Steve Collinson, Chief People Officer at Zurich UK.

At the time, Zurich’s part-time employees were 35% less likely to apply for promotions, as many thought they couldn’t progress without increasing their working hours - since jobs above them in the promotion chain weren’t explicitly open to flexible working.

Consequently, Zurich became the first organisation in the UK to offer all roles on a part-time, job share, or full-time with flexibility basis.

Fast forward to 2023, 87.5% of part-time hires were women - four times higher than in 2019 - and the number of women hired for part-time senior positions had doubled. Likewise, the number of men hired on a part-time basis dramatically increased by over 50% in five years.

Notably, this transition didn’t grow over time; "people found our job adverts, saw the difference in wording, and that part-time would be firmly celebrated at Zurich, and that change happened overnight.”

“When we measured engagement last year, our part-time employees showed the same level of engagement as those working full-time […] this reinforces the hard work we’ve put into ensuring those who work different patterns to the historical norm feel valued and involved in the success of our business,” Steve added.

Zurich is determined to create a sustainable workforce by retaining and developing existing talent via internal promotions. Roughly 70% of the insurer’s vacancies are filled internally, with successful applicants often opting for job-share or part-time schedules. Last year, part-time internal promotions rose by 167%.

“I feel incredibly lucky to have an employer who fully supports both my work and my ordination journey,” said Neil Fisher, Market Strategy Consultant at Zurich UK who’s currently working flexibly. He’s due to be ordained as a deacon within the Church of England at the end of June 2024.

Meanwhile, Alan Roxborough was set to retire last year but felt he wasn’t quite ready after working in Zurich’s underwriting team for twelve years. Therefore, after a four-month sabbatical, he returned to work on a part-time basis (six days a month) so he could continue contributing to the team and pursue new hobbies outside of work.

“I’m now really enjoying working, alongside gardening, and many other hobbies I’ve never had time for,” he said.

Commenting on these figures, Steve said it’s great to see a consistently high number of people applying for roles, and “even more so, we’re proud to see that we’re supporting peoples’ career growth with internal promotions, whilst also accommodating their flexible working arrangements.”

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