How to effectively support carers in your workplace

With 6.5 million people providing unpaid care for a loved one who is older, disabled or seriously ill, there has never been a more important time for organisations to support all aspects of an individual’s caring responsibilities. Here are our top 6 solutions for recruiting, retaining and engaging talented people who – more often than not – will be juggling paid work with caring at some point.

  1. Identify carers in your workplace. Over two million people move in and out of caring each year and people can be caring for years without realising too. Help individuals understand if they are a carer through a promotionalcampaign. Try using posters, the intranet or an email to staff. Avoid using direct questions such as ‘are you a carer?’ and instead try ‘do you help look after a loved one?’
  2. Understand the challenges. No two people who are caring are the same so it’s important to understand the challenges people are facing and how you can help them. This can be done through focus groups, employee surveys and your carers’ network if you have one.
  3. Provide high-quality, practical and reliable support. Even with the best intentions, if a family care benefit doesn’t meet the employee’s needs or is unreliable, a carer can still feel responsible. Work will, and should, always take a backseat to family, so high-quality, practical and most importantly reliable support is paramount in helping carers balance work and family life. Make sure your benefits are easy to access too –a one-stop-shop for childcare, eldercare, resources, discounts and back-up care will help with uptake.
  4. Identify a flexible working approach. Flexible working can make a significant difference in how carers juggle their responsibilities at home and at work. While every workplace is different, consider if a flexible working approach should be part of your organisation’s solution –this should give carers the confidence and flexibility to fit work around caring and helping you retain and engage your best people.
  5. Consider special leave arrangements. Special leave arrangements for carers can give extra support and pressure relief at a critical time, while also helping organisations to manage absenteeism. Consider your current policies and the addition of special leave arrangements for those looking after others.
  6. Create a supportive workplace culture. Creating a culture where carers can be open and feel supported has a significant, positive impact for both the individual and the organisation. Managers are able to understand the needs of their team better whilst carers can feel more able and secure in managing their responsibilities.