Beruf & Familie

Work & Family

Opposites attract. That’s how we see it, too.

Those who expect a lot must also be prepared to give a lot. As a family-owned company in its third generation, we know from our own experience how important it is to balance family and career.

In an innovative and value-oriented company, work and family don’t have to be opposites. That is why we offer our employees a variety of options for adapting their working hours to their needs. These include, for example, flexible working time models, working from home and a working time account. If necessary, we also provide leave for the care and supervision of a relative. We are also happy to provide individual support in family emergencies. We thus promote an innovative and sustainable way of working.

Interview with Meike Misch

Work and family? Yes – and with great flexibility!

In an interview, Meike Misch talks about what it's like to have kids and a career at the Weber Group.

Daughter: Luise, who was two and a half at the time of the interview
Position: Purchasing manager

These days, working mothers rarely have an easy time. Those who want to have a career but who also want children often struggle with criticism, too little time and rigid working-time models. Meike Misch, mother of two-and-a-half-year-old Luise and a purchasing manager at our main location in Dillenburg, is familiar this problem. Thanks to a very flexible environment, however, she has managed the balancing act. She describes what made it work in an interview.

You are a manager at Weber and at the same time are the mother of a young family. How do you personally unite these two challenging roles?
After the birth of our daughter Luise, I got going straight away again. In the beginning, I worked exclusively part-time (50%) from home, and was only present in the office when absolutely necessary (e.g. during important negotiations or audits). When Luise was six months old, I was back in the office a little more often – about two days a week. My ultimate return, with a reduction in working hours to 75%, came when Luise was 13 months old and was able to visit the day nursery in our town. She felt very comfortable there and I knew that she would be well looked after, so I was able to really concentrate on work when I returned to the office. This has made returning much easier.

After the birth of our daughter, I first reduced my monthly working hours to 50%, then to 75%, and I’ve arranged my hours so they’re staggered with those of my husband. This means that our daughter didn’t have to spend too much time at the nursery. We worked out our budget as best we could. Overall, the model has worked well for us.

Have you received personal, family, co-worker or company support?
Yes I have, and I still am. Especially during my maternity leave, I was well covered by my deputy and my entire purchasing team. Fortunately, the department already had experience working independently, and that didn’t change during my absence. I maintained close contact with my team by telephone or e-mail while working from home, and have been able to manage whatever work came up effectively. So I was always involved in important decisions and knew what was going on. Only the management responsibilities, for which regular attendance is mandatory, were taken over by my deputy - as far as was possible. The other departments and our management board took everything into account too and gave me great support – this was a large reassurance during my maternity leave.

Even today, companies and colleagues continue to be very flexible. This helps me enormously with regard to my schedule and organising my work hours. If something is crazy at home, I can leave everything at the office at any time.

Another nice aspect is that we also receive a lot of support from my husband’s employer and from our extended family, which means that I can even go on work trips sometimes. We’re really grateful for that. I know from my circle of friends that not all companies are so cooperative, flexible and accommodating when it comes to designing their personal working-time models.

What advice can you give to women in similar life situations?
It became clear to me personally that I wanted both: a career and a family. In this case, career meant my previous role as purchasing manager. From the company’s point of view, however, this can only work if you opt for relatively short parental leave and maintain contact with the company or department. As I mentioned earlier, those around you also have to be involved. In my case, it worked out wonderfully.

You should be aware, however, that in Germany unfortunately the image of a working mother with a toddler is still very negative. You often struggle with the unspoken accusation of being selfish, both in your private and professional environments. The relatively rigid time models in children’s daycare centres in Germany and the recent dramatic rise in care costs also make it difficult for young women to return to work. Politicians still have a lot of homework to do in this regard.

You also have to consider the fact that you won't always be there for everything that your child experiences. In my opinion, however, this also has positive aspects: for example, our daughter has a very strong relationship with her father, because the two of them spend a lot of time together.

Time is the keyword in the life of a working mother! There's never enough time for anything – child, job, household and above all for yourself. To get everything under control, you need one thing above all: flexibility from all sides. I can only recommend that you think about your personal working model at an early stage and involve your manager in the process, so that you can coordinate your own ideas and wishes with the needs of the company. This is the only way for a company to plan and take appropriate precautions for the employee’s return. This also applies to fathers on parental leave. I also think it’s important to stay in touch with the company.

Overall, I don’t want to miss any of my daughter's experiences, and there’s no way on earth I would want to neglect her. You always think it’s a cliché without a child, but for me it's true: kids are the best thing in the world!