Caring for Carers in the WorkplaceJune 11, 2020
Categorised in: News
As it is Carers Awareness Week, we have put together a little guide on how you can implement a good and successful support system within your company to assist carer employees.
Carers UK estimates that there are currently around six-and-a-half million carers in the UK alone, and that number continues to rise every day. A very large proportion of these people are part of the working population. Having to juggle the demands of care support and work can be a very stressful and daunting task, so it's really important that employers take positive steps to identify and support the carers amongst their workforce.
Taking positive steps in supporting carers amongst their workforce, helps these employees to perform better in their jobs by managing the balance between care responsibilities and work expectations and helping them to potentially access vital care support.
Introduce a carers policy
Implementing a carers policy not only shows employees they have the support of their company but also carers know what is available to them and also what help is being offered by the company to relieve some of the stress that comes with being a carer and working.
Make the policies easily accessible to all employees, as sometimes carers don’t notify their employer of their status and might miss out on vital support. Also, by circulating such policies, employees will be more aware of what they can do to support their carer colleagues and how to spot if someone is a carer.
Allow carers to work flexibly
Implementing a carers policy is a good step in supporting carers in the workplace, but other policies should accompany this, such as flexible working. Flexible working provides carers with the choice of a shift pattern that suits their care timetable and will lead to them having to take fewer holiday days and sick days, as well as allowing them time to take personal and important phone calls, work from home or even part-time working.
Caring for someone can often lead to carers having to give up work or work reduced hours due to not being able to commit to coming into the office, which in turn creates huge financial stress for many. By offering flexibility, this gives employees the option to continue working the hours they need to as well as being able to care for someone.
Educate managers and HR staff to support carers
Training managers and HR staff on supporting carers in the workplace is crucial to providing the correct help and work environment. Implementing a carers policy is great, but managers are essential to making it work and are likely to be the biggest support system for the carer by helping them to balance the demands of work and care.
The training should cover fully all aspects of care, but in particular how to identify carers in the workplace, how to communicate with them and how to offer them support.
Arrange a flexible leave policy
Offering flexible leave arrangements is always a good practice when supporting carers. This can help employees to manage a crisis or taking more time off work to care for someone.
While it is a right that employees can take a reasonable amount of time off work to care for dependants on an unpaid basis, some employers choose to offer carers dealing with crisis support that goes beyond their statutory right, therefore leaving the employee feeling more cared for and valued by their company.
Provide easy-to-access information
There are a number of steps an employer can take to support carers in the workplace. Providing information to carers about what support is available to them both in the workplace and externally and how to access it is really important. This can be created in the form of a carers guide that can be shared via your employee communication channels, or staff portal/app if you should have one that gives quick and easy access to information.
In our recent study, People at the Heart, 60% of workers who care for someone with a disability or illness agree that poor workplace technology affects their work:life balance, 53% affects their mental wellbeing and 52% affects their financial wellbeing. This shows just how important it is to utilise staff portals and mobile apps to provide support and information, especially for carers. Download the full study into key engagement drivers the UK workforce here
Having a dedicated space and support line for carers via a company portal can really help with wellbeing and work:care:life balance, as well as assist with financial troubles. Caring for someone can put a huge financial strain on the caregiver, so knowing what support is available to them can make all the difference.
Peer-to-peer support groups
For some carers, they have no spare time between work and caring to be able to access help and information. Creating peer-to-peer support groups within the workplace for all carers in the company is a great step to showing support. Carers should be able to discuss how they are feeling as well as sharing tips and advice with each other.
By offering this kind of support in the workplace, carers that have no other time to seek help will begin to feel less alone and isolated and are likely to become more engaged at work due to the way in which their employer is looking after and supporting them.
The HIVE360 app provides carers with free access to Tutella – a service that provides expert advice to find the best care for both the carer and the patient as well as a free helpline service. Some of the advice included is:
- Practical Support
- Financial Support
- Emergency Care Services
- Technology & Care Services
- Preparing for Hospital
- Coming Home from Hospital
- Changing Care Home
- Legal Support
Create a supportive environment and raise awareness
It is important for employers to start raising awareness of the company’s available support for carers. This ensures that employees with caring responsibilities aren’t left in the dark and feeling alone and know exactly what support is on offer for them.
Awareness should also be raised surrounding looking after the wellbeing of carers amongst your workforce, as this makes it a lot easier for carers to approach colleagues for support or vice versa.
For more information and advice on how you can help carers, or if you are a carer looking for advice on how your employer can support you, visit https://www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice and for more information on Carers Week, visit https://www.carersweek.org/