Smart-Working-Morning-Future
Inspiring Best Practice 17 November Nov 2017 1100 17 November 2017

Smart working and corporate welfare, things are moving (even in small and medium enterprises)

Brazzale and 7Pixel provide examples on the reconciliation between life and work, and baby bonuses indicate that corporate welfare can be ensured even in Italy. The development of smart working initiatives in small companies gives rise to some hope. But we are the tail lights of the world.

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They are called enlightened entrepreneurs. People like Nicola Lamberti, CEO of 7Pixel, a company based in the Arezzo province that operates online in a price comparison framework. Or like Roberto Brazzale, owner of the namesake dairy company that conducts business between Zanè, in the Vicenza province, and the Czech Republic. Both companies have decided, regardless of a regulation that would not oblige them to do so, to offer economic support and initiatives to reconcile personal life and work for new mothers and new fathers employed by their companies. Particularly Roberto Brazzale’s initiative came as quite a surprise. Starting from last March, he decided to pay his over 550 employees a rich baby bonus for every newborn. The bonus was equal to a month’s average wages.

They are considered enlightened because, unfortunately, there are few others like them. Data of the second Welfare Index Pmi report promoted by Generali in partnership with Confindustria, Confagricoltura, Confartigianato and Confprofessioni, and presented last April, reveal that, for instance, only 6.7% of small and medium-sized companies offers assistance service to workers and their families. The percentage resembles that of small and medium-sized companies that have adopted smart working policies for their employees.

«We want to help the economic effort of new parents and, especially, to make them feel that the company is happy when they successfully implement their life projects, which must always be given due importance», says Roberto Brazzale, presenting his project. The initiative also includes three years of parental leave with the right to keep the job and receive compensation. The period can be extended in the event of the birth of other children. «We want to leave the world a better place, compared to how we found it», says Lamberti. Both are aware that corporate helpfulness in allowing every employee to organise his or her leisure time as desired constitutes an essential stimulus to work better.

In 2017, the number of smart workers increased by 14% compared to the previous year. They are few, about 7-8% of Italian employees, but there has been a 60% growth, compared to 2013.

The survey entitled Flexible Work: Friend or Foe? and commissioned by Vodafone was conducted on a sample of 8,000 individuals, including both employers and employees, from ten countries. It is no mere chance that Vodafone is the company that involved the largest number of employees in its smart policies in Italy, as proven by data recorded by the Smart Working Observatory at the Milan Polytechnic. Indeed, 83% of subjects involved in various capacities in smart working projects mention an increase in productivity, precisely a 61% increase in profits, and a 58% better impact on corporate reputation.

Hence, more a friend and less a foe. But in Italy we are still backwards, especially in small enterprises. Considering the Vodafone survey, 40% of Italian workers involved in the survey has still not adopted flexible working policies, while only 31% has experimented them at least once. Hence, our country ranks one before the last among all countries involved in the study, only followed by Hong Kong.

Results reported by the Smart Working Observatory of the School of Management, Milan Polytechnic, are partly different. According to them, the number of smart workers has increased by 14% in 2017, compared to last year. They are few, about 7-8% of Italian employees, but there has been a 60% growth, compared to 2013. Instead, regarding the small and medium-sized enterprises, only 7% of companies has started up well-structured projects, while 22% are working on paths that are still at an experimental stage. «Support for motherhood and new births must be provided with a choral effort in which companies must do their part», says Brazzale once again. Hence, perhaps in Italy there are still too many tenors, but we still lack a proper choir.