Katie Dunsworth-Reiach
Mar 21'

Family-Friendly Workplaces: How Flexible Working can Increase Retention and Loyalty

During our recent webinar, we had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Katie Dunsworth-Reiach, Co-Founder and Principal of Talk Shop Media.

With offices in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto, Talk Shop Media is one of Canada’s most disruptive PR and communications agencies. Recognized across the country for its work, Talk Shop has also drawn praise for its innovative approach to employee retention and recognition. 

In our wide-ranging discussion, Katie spoke to us about the importance of building a family-friendly culture, and the benefits that Talk Shop’s policies have created for both the organization and its people. 


family-friendly workplaces

One of the most notable policies at Talk Shop is their approach to maternity leave. The company offers a 75% top-up to employees that have been with the company for more than two years and a full 100% for those who have five years of service. That’s quite an investment, and Katie revealed that the company has spent more than $600,000 on maternity leave alone during the past two years. 

“I would still probably say that it’s one of the best investments we could have ever made,” admitted Katie who went on to describe the benefits it has brought to Talk Shop as a business. 

It’s not about buying loyalty, instead, Katie revealed that the policy has helped to generate a level of respect and appreciation from people. The end result is a committed workforce who not only want to return to work, but want to return to do their best work because they know that Katie and her team have gone the extra mile to treat their families right. 

It’s not just Talk Shop who benefit from generous maternity programs, however. A 2017 survey found more than 90% of companies with similar policies reported positive effects on morale, profitability and productivity.

Flexible working hours 

While their maternity policy is a big part of what has led Talk Shop to be recognized as one of Canada’s top employers, Katie also said that it is just one piece of a bigger picture when it comes to employee rewards and recognition. 

“It would be a bit short-term if we had this great policy but then you come back and work 12-hour days and never see your family,” Katie said, recognizing that long workdays that left little time to spend with family were unsustainable in the long run. 

“We try not to do that,” she continued before describing Talk Shop’s flexible policy that balances the need to be accessible to the organization’s clients with the demands of day-to-day life such as dropping off or picking kids up from childcare. 

The goal is to create an environment where team members can actually enjoy quality time with their families, which is itself a natural extension of what they are trying to achieve through a generous maternity program. “We’ve tried to combo the two,” she said. “It makes sense for us to top-up from a retention and performance standpoint and then couple that with also being able to sustain it.” 

The statistics reinforce Katie’s belief. One 2019 study found that almost half (46% of respondents) had left their job or were planning to leave their job due to a lack of flexibility. Even more telling was the fact that 80% of people admitted that they’d be more loyal to their employer if they offered flexible working hours. 

Creating a comfortable culture

Comfortable family culture

Employee rewards and recognition aren’t just about implementing policies and programs in isolation however, the culture that you build within an organization is also vitally important. 

As part of the discussion about Talk Shop’s “Get It” culture, our webinar also expanded on the importance of normalizing these conversations within the workplace. Katie is proud that Talk Shop has made them “safe and comfortable,” by empowering their teams to speak up when they need to balance their work and family commitments. 

At the end of the day, it’s about creating a culture that fundamentally takes care of the organization’s people. 

The bottom line 

As Katie herself said, the investments that Talk Shop has made in programs like their maternity top-up have been significant, but they have also significantly benefited the organization’s bottom line. 

As well as attracting recognition, the award-winning company culture has also created high levels of employee retention and ensured that there is a regular stream of high-level applicants when they post a new role. These are great examples of the kind of benefits that these kinds of initiatives can have not just for employees, but for the business as a whole. 

Be sure to check out the webinar recording to find out how Talk Shop built its “Get It” culture and to hear more about the role that family-friendly working practices have helped boost employee retention and recognition. 

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