The purpose of Carers Week, which runs from June 6–12, is to draw attention to the difficulties experienced by unpaid carers. One of the major difficulties is juggling daily job and caregiving. As a result, now is an excellent time for companies to consider what they can do to support workers who serve as unpaid carers.
How To Support Employees Who Are Unpaid Carers In Terms Of Employee Health And Wellbeing
The pandemic that we have been experiencing and fighting through over the past two years has brought home more than ever how important unpaid carers are.
In the UK, there are reportedly close to seven million carers, or nearly one in ten people. One in seven workers, or five million people, simultaneously balance caring responsibilities with employment.
It can be extremely difficult to balance the mental, physical, financial, and time demands of caring for someone while also working, whether “caring” in this context refers to taking care of an elderly dependent, a partner or child with a disability, or, with the number of these cases rising, someone who is struggling to recover from a long illness.
This is especially true for “sandwich” carers, or those who look after elderly parents or other relatives while also caring for young dependents.
What then, as an employer, can you do to help? Here are five ways employers can make a difference.
1. Recognise The Increase In Employer Support For Working Carers
According to a research by the organisation carers UK, the pandemic experience has prompted companies to step up their support for unpaid carers.
Workplace carer networks have nearly doubled in number. Six out of ten firms (63%) now provide flexible scheduling, up from 42% previously, and a comparable amount (62%) also provide additional leave options.
The idea is to realise that, given the amount of individuals who are responsible for caring for others, you almost likely have employees in your company who are juggling caring with a job, even if they aren’t necessarily making a big deal out of it. And they probably could use some assistance.
2. Provide Your Staff With Some Flexibility
Despite the fact that providing care for someone will almost always be difficult, there are several ways companies may support their working carers.
Having access to private time or space to make calls when necessary, flexible working arrangements or flextime, and paid or unpaid care leave were some of the most well-liked perks listed in a research by the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development last year titled supporting working carers. As our workplaces grow more “hybrid,” providing flexibility in the how, where, and when caring employees may work can also be beneficial.
In truth, certainty and adaptability are essential everywhere. Even while carers are typically quite good at controlling and balancing their time, knowing that there may be more flexibility available if they need it may be really reassuring. This might be done to pick up the slack or as a result of an unexpected emergency in the world of care.
3. Monetary Assistance, Assurance, And Education
Employers can only do so much to help working carers financially, even though additional time off or flexibility are both very helpful.
But even if providing direct assistance is not possible, there are still many things you may do. You may, for instance, ensure that devoted staff members are informed of their eligibility for benefits like the Carer’s Allowance or their rights as employees to time off for dependents or family. In order to improve accessibility when parking, certain unpaid carers may also be qualified to apply for a Blue Badge.
Additionally, general financial education and support may be beneficial and are frequently valued by unpaid carers who are struggling to make ends meet.
This could include financial education on topics like saving and pension planning as well as advise or direction on money management and budgeting. For instance, it’s crucial for carers to comprehend the potential effects of reduced hours due to caring commitments on their retirement income.
Remember that not all of the support must come from the employer. Employee-led working carer networks, where staff members support and assist one another to handle the caring balancing act, can provide some of the most effective carer support. It will be beneficial to point people in the direction of neighbourhood services like Citizens’ Advice or the local council.
4. Encourage Self-care And Resiliency Skills
When it comes to care and assistance, carers frequently prioritise the needs of others before their own.
Giving your unpaid carers some “TLC” support of their own may therefore be appreciated as their employer. Additionally, it will convey strongly how highly regarded caretakers are in your organisation.
Self-directed aid and guidance could take the form of stress management, such as knowing better what you can and cannot control, or resilience training to enhance self-esteem and confidence. It could also take the form of advice on how to avoid overstretching yourself as a working carer.
You can consider organising health campaigns that emphasise the value of excellent sleep hygiene and management for both physical and mental well-being. Sessions on self-care, relaxing, healthy eating, staying hydrated, trying to keep up an exercise routine, and other topics are available. Of course, there are times when unpaid carers are forced to work extremely long hours. However, reiterating the value of taking care of oneself while providing skills and resources to do so can be quite helpful.
5. Be Aware That Providing Care Might Be A Circular Process
Responsibilities for providing care can shift or repeat in cycles. This might be the case if the individual receiving care becomes well, such as if they progressively recover from a protracted COVID. It can also be the case that they require live-in or residential care when their condition deteriorates. The terrible situation when the individual being cared for has passed away could also apply.
Even though this is never a simple circumstance, from the viewpoint of the workplace, it can imply that a worker’s caring obligation eases and they can reconsider their work commitments.
Many unpaid carers may feel compelled to do this for financial reasons or just out of a desire to restart a career that has been put on hold owing to caring commitments.
In either case, it’s important to understand that caring may not be sequential or lasting. Build a frequent review process into your schedule so you can talk with your working carers about whether the help you are providing is still appropriate or needs to change as well as whether any new or additional benefits can be implemented.
This evaluation process can be helpful in determining whether someone’s caring obligations have grown to the point where they regrettably need to leave the workforce, whether temporarily or more permanently.
If at all possible, in these kinds of circumstances, letting the employee know that the door is still open in case things change can be really helpful. It can provide a lot of comfort and aid the corporation in preserving its relationship with a crucial team member.
Do You Want More Information On This Subject For Your Team?
We offer a variety of programmes that you may reserve that concentrate on the critical abilities and information required to properly manage occupational mental health and wellbeing. These well-being initiatives are a preventative and restorative approach that help your staff become more resilient. Please contact Lynn at firstname.lastname@example.org to express your interest in a wellbeing intervention and receive further information.