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Work-life balance. Zubi Group and the balance revolution at work

Elena Yepes, Chief People Officer of Zubi Group, is a true HR rockstar. She is not only a Psychologist and MBA with almost 20 years of experience in the HR world, she is a true master in the art of people management!

She has traveled an impressive journey, between two very different worlds: Technology and Real Estate. Can you imagine being the mastermind behind the people in a Spanish multinational company with more than 1,000 employees like Sngular? She did it! And if that wasn’t enough, she spent almost a decade at the British multinational Savills as Director of Talent.

Today, Elena is the Chief People Officer of Zubi Group and besides being a recognized influencer in the HR world, what really sets her apart are her key competencies: commitment, initiative, teamwork and an overflowing passion for achieving results. She is a whirlwind of energy and talent that never lacks “the spark of life” in that glass half full!

There is nothing she can’t do in this field, from the more technical areas such as organization, payroll and occupational risk prevention, to the softer areas such as development, recruiting, learning and employee experience. She is an expert at building HR teams from scratch and designing policies and procedures that make everything run smoothly.

“Work-life balance is not only a family challenge, it is a matter of equality and co-responsibility.”

In today’s changing world of work, work-life balance has become a key priority in Human Resources. Current trends in people management emphasize the importance of creating work environments that allow employees to balance their work and family responsibilities. Work-life balance is not only an ethical consideration, but also a strategic element in attracting, retaining and motivating talent in a society that increasingly values quality of life. In this context, companies that adopt effective work-life balance policies are in an optimal position to meet the challenges of today’s labor market and provide a work environment in which all people can thrive. This trend towards greater work-life balance is transforming the way organizations manage their teams and is becoming a differentiating factor in attracting and retaining talent.

We had the opportunity to have an interesting conversation with Elena Yepes, Chief People Officer at Zubi Group, where she shared her valuable perspectives on work-life balance in the business environment. Elena highlights the importance of addressing this challenge and provides information on the initiatives that Zubi Group has implemented to improve the quality of life of its people and promote work-life balance.

Is work-life balance a pending issue in organizations?

Of course, work-life balance remains a major challenge in organizations. There are three key problems that hinder work-life balance. On the one hand, we must talk about the presence, this is a cultural issue, in Spain has not yet consolidated a leadership model based on objectives and performance and in many companies the presence is still the yardstick.

On the other hand, we must point out the long working hours and inflexible or non-flexible schedules. As a relevant fact, in Spain more than 50% of workers work more than 40 hours a day and more than 45% of people always or usually have to extend their working day.

These challenges are ingrained in the business culture and it is difficult to change them, but not impossible, but the problem must be addressed within organizations, but also beyond them (governments, public administrations, etc.).

How can organizations and public administrations address these challenges?

Organizations and governments must work together to address these challenges. Companies have an important role to play in leading change and adopting initiatives that promote work-life balance, while public administrations must legislate to support work-life balance. In addition, at the individual level, it is essential that we all contribute to change by first claiming and fighting for our rights. This is a shared responsibility. We especially address this call to men, urging them to exercise the rights that have been achieved. How many men think that they make use of the right to reduce their working hours? Surprisingly, only 5% of men take advantage of this opportunity, compared to 26% of women.

As for leave of absence, we again find a disparity, with 85% of women requesting leave of absence compared to 15% of men. These data underscore the need for a cultural change and greater involvement of men in the pursuit of work-family reconciliation.

Work-life balance is a priority for the group. How does Zubi Group identify work-life balance problems in the company?

Undoubtedly, work-life balance is a priority for Zubi Group, and in 2021 we implemented a work-life balance policy with the aim of creating an environment where people can balance their personal and professional lives. Our policy focuses on promoting productivity, quality of personal time, flexible work strategies and care for children and dependent family members.

At Zubi Group, the identification of work-life balance issues is carried out continuously and proactively. The company recognizes that work-life balance needs vary over time and affect the entire team equally, regardless of their family situation. This is because people experience changes in their lives and responsibilities over time.

It is essential for us to collect data and conduct ongoing assessments to help us understand changing needs. In addition, we do not limit work-life balance only to those with family responsibilities, but applies to the entire workforce, including those without children.

A relevant aspect that Zubi Group takes into consideration is the evolution of work-life balance demands throughout people’s life cycle. This not only encompasses needs related to parenting and childcare, but also involves recognizing that as people age, care responsibilities may shift to caring for their parents or older relatives.

The importance is that companies must adapt to this changing reality in order to attract and retain talent. Zubi Group emphasizes the need to ask and accompany its employees at every stage of their lives, both professional and personal, as they are intrinsically linked. This reflects a progressive and supportive approach that goes beyond traditional work-life balance policies and recognizes the importance of addressing the mental health and well-being of employees in a post-pandemic world.

How has Zubi Group addressed the challenge of work-life balance in different generations?

As I mentioned earlier, work-life balance is not just limited to family issues; it is a personal aspect that concerns everyone. Although our needs may vary, the right to work-life balance and enjoy a good quality of life is common to everyone.

In this regard, we recognize that companies have a responsibility to ensure that their policies do not discriminate against or penalize those who do not have children or other family responsibilities. For example, it is common that single people often do not receive preferences in the choice of their vacation periods.

At Zubi, we have implemented a strategy that encompasses four major blocks of measures, only one of which focuses on family reconciliation (related to children or dependents). The remaining 75% of the measures are designed to enable everyone, regardless of their personal situation, to reconcile their lives effectively.

For example, at Zubi, we have implemented a series of measures aimed at ensuring the care of children and dependents, taking into account the diversity of our employees’ family situations. These measures include the possibility of reducing the working day for childcare from 8 to 7 hours a day, without this entailing a reduction in the fixed salary, and this option is extended until the child reaches one year of age.

In addition, we have extended the age range of minors who can benefit from the legal reduction for guardianship and custody, from 12 to 14 years of age. We have also improved paid leave for the death of a family member, granting 2 additional days to provide the necessary support in difficult times.

Recognizing the importance of caring for elderly members of our families, we have established an annual €500 allowance for the care of dependent ascendants. We have also created a care allowance for seriously ill or handicapped descendants of the same amount to support those who care for their children in special situations.

These measures are intended to provide meaningful support to all our employees, regardless of their family situation, and to promote a work environment that enables each individual to reconcile family and work responsibilities effectively.

Does Zubi Group have a digital disconnection policy? What measures or initiatives have you implemented to ensure disconnection?

At Zubi, we have a digital disconnection policy that focuses on respecting rest time after the end of the workday. This policy includes several measures, such as the use of email and instant messaging scheduling tools, as well as the scheduling of meetings within working hours. Our main goal is to improve the team’s quality of life by ensuring that they can enjoy their personal time without work interference.

Elena Yepes’ vision and the initiatives implemented by Zubi Group offer an inspiring overview of work-life balance. With its progressive approach, the group is creating an environment that values equality, flexibility and quality of life for all employees. As the world of work continues to evolve, Zubi Group is working to lead the way towards a more inclusive and equitable work culture.