Supporting carers in the workplace

Research from Carers UK states that 2.3 million adults have given up work to care at some point in their lives, with a further 3 million reducing their hours.

 

20% of carers surveyed have taken less suitable jobs for their qualifications, or refused promotions outright. Clearly, caring for a loved one is an extremely difficult, time-consuming and sensitive task, and carers who make sweeping changes to their lives—and livelihoods—deserve praise.

 

But many more carers remain part of the workforce. Even with the additional stresses and concerns that care brings. As an employer, your duty of care to your people is one of your most important responsibilities—here are a few ways to support those among your staff with caring responsibilities.

 

Check-ups

Employees do not legally have to notify their employer that they are a carer. However, employers should encourage an open dialogue at the right opportunity, to promote an open work culture.

 

Checking on an employee's wellbeing regularly during catch ups and/or appraisals can encourage this open dialogue. It can also provide opportunities for employees to raise anything that may be impacting on their general wellbeing.

 

Flexible working practices

Carers have a lot of responsibilities to manage. A great way to make their life a little easier is to ensure that their tasks aren’t in the way—flexitime, allowing them to choose their hours (as long as their work is completed in a timely manner) can help. Even if this simply means moving their start and finish times forward by an hour, this can be the difference between rushing to prepare for the day, and being secure in the knowledge that their caring responsibilities are in hand.

 

Job-sharing and allowing remote working will give a carer more time to spend at home. However, it is important that they have structures and support in place to allow them to complete their work, as they would being present in the workplace.

 

Management support

Knowing that management is sympathetic will help your employees with caring responsibilities come forward with their issues. Your senior members of staff should have training in understanding these issues—simply knowing how to be supportive and empathetic when a carer first approaches can make the difference between them continuing work, or taking time off.

 

Making management available at all times, by distributing out-of-office phone numbers, is a great way to show support—a carer’s work never ends, after all.

 

Open wellness culture

Promote and encourage openness around mental and physical wellbeing in your workplace. Not only will this help carers to speak up about any issues they may face and the help you can provide, it’ll create a more pleasant atmosphere for everyone in general.

 

Provide resources and opportunities for healthiness—healthy snacks, educational literature and social functions can help. Senior management sharing stories of their own difficulties is greatly encouraging as well—let people know that everyone suffers from the same issues.

 

Carers are a valuable asset. And with a rapidly aging population, more and more people may need to take on a caring role along with their workload. Be prepared and open about your acceptance of this, and show a genuine desire to help—and you’ll be making a difference to a lot of lives.

 

 

If you would like to find out more information on any of the topics mentioned in this article, please contact Health Assured on:

0844 892 2493

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