A change of perspective at the age of 50? Go back to full-time.

Corinna Fröschke
March 13, 2018
Experienced professionals
Sabine Reisinger is 50 and in April she will enter her sixth year working for Baloise. In December 2017 she felt for various reasons that 80 % part-time work was no longer enough. She asked to return to full-time work and this led to Sabine finding a completely new working model for herself.

Return to full-time | 80% becomes 2 x 50%

Wolfgang Prasser

Wolfgang Prasser, Head of Product Management Private Customers

“Sabine wanted to expand her workload and my secretarial position alone would not have sufficed. In complaint management there was again a need for a part-time position and so we found an optimal solution for all parties involved. Sabine was able to increase her workload, found her chance to return to full-time work, and we were able to fill two part-time positions. On top of that, Sabine also gains variety with her two different tasks. Win-win-win!” 

Up until recently Sabine held an 80 per cent part-time position in the office of management board member Wolfgang Prasser, head of product management for private customers. At the end of 2016, she decided she wanted more, hoping to increase this to a full-time position – that was not possible. That option wasn’t available with her old job and so it became necessary to ask around internally. “After six years with Baloise,” Sabine says, “I’m well-networked and always hear about vacancies. Suddenly, a 50 per cent position opened up in our complaints management department. I found that exciting.” So, Sabine asked her boss if she could reduce her work for him to 50 per cent and return to a full-time job with the other 50 per cent job. No problem at all, he said, and suddenly Sabine effectively had two jobs.

Secretary’s office in the morning – complaint management in the afternoon

Sabine’s day starts between 7.00 a.m. and 8.00 a.m.  – on the third floor, room 346, in Wolfgang Prasser’s antechamber, where she works with three colleagues. She manages his calendar, organises meetings and workshops, announces his visitors, takes care of his expenses, his emails and calls and of course she makes coffee. That’s what secretarial work involves. Lunch break is at noon. “After that,” Sabine continues, “I switch offices and go over to room 326. But the fact that both of my jobs are on the same floor is simply a coincidence. In the Touchpoint & Complaint Management department I sit in an open-plan office with about ten people. There’s a lot of noise and discussion, we agree who takes on which cases and make phone calls.”

Every job in its place

“It’s important to me to switch office and do my work in the relevant department,“ stresses Sabine. “I don’t want any special treatment. Answering complaints in our secretary’s office would feel to me like working from home. That doesn’t suit me. I want to feel the atmosphere of both jobs and interact with my colleagues. This way we can discuss a lot in a short space of time. I belong to two teams and that feels good.” When exactly Sabine does which task would ultimately not matter.  “I have two great bosses,” she stresses, “they give me freedom and trust that all my work will be done by the end of the day.”   Switching from one job to another does not cause her any difficulties.

Return to full-time | Personal development

Sabine’s work in the afternoon involves reading letters. Most complaints are actually sent by post. Then we have to call them back. “As a rule,” Sabine reveals, “they feel valued when we contact them personally. Their issues are often already well-outlined in the letters. Most telephone calls are very solution-oriented and both sides end the call on a positive note. We in complaint management are perceived as a neutral body. That helps.”   Sabine smiles. “In the beginning I was often much too strict with our customers,” she admits. “When someone says something negative about Baloise, I almost feel attacked. So first I had to learn to take a step back. For me this is like a personal development of sorts! It didn’t matter in my secretarial job.”

A change of perspective at the age of 50

Listening to Sabine, you can hear her gratitude. The fact that at the age of 50 she had the chance to escape from a certain monotony and to gain a new experience on top of that was a huge stroke of luck. As was the possibility to return to full-time. “My days pass faster than before. I was given the chance to broaden my horizons within our business again and had no pressure to train. At my age I wouldn’t have wanted that so much. It was a gentle change.” Sometimes she notices how helpful her network of six years of secretarial work can be. For some complaints she knows the right contact person off the top of her head and can find a solution very quickly. “It is important to me at my age to a) have work and b) be able to do it satisfactorily. My 50/50 solution gives me that. I wouldn’t change anything now.”

Statement Sacha Truffer, Head of Customer Satisfaction

Sabine’s two fields of activity do not hinder the other in any way. On the contrary. Due to the contacts in the secretary’s office and the associated network, Sabine can easily approach the relevant key contact persons where there has been a complaint. This makes internal clarifications easier, and she adds to the complaint management’s network. What’s more, Sabine is also available for Wolfgang Prasser’s secretary office outside of her usual scheduled hours, i.e. in the event of staff shortages due to holidays or illness. But all this is only possible because everyone involved deals with the situation in a very straightforward and pragmatic way. This starts with Sabine, but extends to interactions between Wolfgang Prasser and I and, last but not least, interactions with HR. For me, this is a good example of how we can become more agile internally.

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