SZE again awarded Family Friendly Workplace title

Széchenyi István University is not just a workplace, but also a community in which family has a special place. The institution not only supports its employees, but also helps its students to balance their studies with raising children. It also organises intergenerational programmes and summer camps, runs a Mum and Baby room and provides financial support for families. The University's efforts in this area have again been recognised with the Family Friendly Workplace award.

The Family Friendly Hungary Centre uses the Family Friendly Workplace label to emphasise that work and private life are not mutually exclusive but mutually reinforcing. The commitment of an employee who has a balanced family life contributes more effectively to the success of the organisation, while a family-friendly approach at organisational level helps to retain employees in the long term and provides a competitive advantage in the labour market. All this is true for Széchenyi István University, which this year won the biennial Family Friendly Workplace award again after 2020.

"Family-friendliness is a decades-old tradition and philosophy at the institution. The University's management has always attached importance to this issue, not only in theory but also in practice," said Kata Németh-Farkas, Secretary of the University branch of the Employees' Union and head of the University's Adult Education Centre. Her commitment to the subject is demonstrated by the fact that last year she received the Families Award from Katalin Novák, then Minister without portfolio for families.

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Kata Németh-Farkas, Secretary of the University branch of the Employees' Union and head of the University's Adult Education Centre. (Photo: Csaba József Májer)

As she said, the compilation of the application was not difficult because it was only a matter of gathering the wide range of services available at the University. The family-friendly ethos is reflected in the institutional regulations - most prominently in the collective agreement - but the principles laid down are also filled with real content. For example, the Mum and baby room at the János Apáczai Csere János Faculty or the childcare facilities in the library building are a great help not only for employees but also for correspondence students during their exams.

"At the end of August, for a whole week in the library, we are inviting the children of our colleagues, not only for care, but also for interesting activities and a little learning," added Kata Németh-Farkas. She stressed that in summer, many families have problems with finding childcare facilities, so - in addition to the above-mentioned opportunities - two camps will be organised in July at the János Csere János Apáczai Faculty, which will also offer a range of activities for kids.

For the children, it is a fun experience, for the parents it is a money-saving solution, and for the student teachers it is professional practice - so it is a win-win situation.

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Széchenyi István University has won the Family Friendly Workplace award for the second time (Photo: Csaba József Májer)

Speaking of summer, she mentioned the camps organized by the Mobilis Interactive Exhibition Centre, which works in close cooperation with the University, and the Children's University, as well as the institution's holiday homes on Lake Balaton, where staff can relax at a reduced price. Families can also enjoy a range of activities, including a popular Santa Claus celebration and a Father's Day event, where male colleagues take their children on a guided tour of the campus.

"The aim of all this is to build community, so that the employees and their families can develop personal relationships, and their children can get to know Széchenyi University, as they may later become our students or even our colleagues,"  Ms Németh-Farkas underlined.

She stressed that the family-friendly approach is also reflected in the fact that lecturers with young children have the opportunity to adjust their timetables to fit in with their parental responsibilities, and the same is also taken into account for correspondence students. In addition to teaching, this approach is also reflected in research, as the University has recently signed a cooperation agreement with the Mária Kopp Institute for Population and Families, which will see national and international research collaborations, and for students there will be the opportunity to take part in the institute's internship programme.

"We know that life's turning points can often place a heavy burden on families, so we offer support in the event of birth, marriage, illness or death. In addition to financial support, a community approach is also important here, not only to mark the passing of someone with a black flag, but also to commemorate the arrival of a new baby at the institute with pink and blue flags," said Ms Németh- Farkas.

As she said, the Family Friendly Workplace certificate has been slightly modified, because it no longer contains different grades, but it is a significant expectation that the potential biennial certification should always aim higher, i.e. the range of family-friendly services should be developed and expanded from time to time. She concluded that, given the spirit of the institution, the management of the University and the attitude of the staff, this would not be a difficult task in the next two years.

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