There are approximately 6.5 million carers across the UK* who devote their time to looking after family members or friends with disabilities, mental health, or physical illnesses who need extra help. Many of these carers have other professions, splitting time between their day job and caring for others. This can mean that these individuals can have their own lives, relationships, health, or finances heavily impacted by their caring responsibilities. This, of course, can be made even more difficult in these uncertain and challenging times.
COVID-19 has shown many businesses that they are able to work in different ways than they have before. This includes through agile and remote working, flexible hours to help with childcare, and more, all of which can greatly help those with caring responsibilities.
You may not know if one of your employees is a carer; they may choose not to talk about it or let it impact their work. They might not care directly for someone, but they could be part of the support network for a carer or could organise care for someone based further away. However, as an employer, you have a duty of care to the employee and their wellbeing, so by providing benefits like an Employee Assistance Programme which staff can access anonymously, you can help provide essential support for your them.
So why not use this year’s Carers Week to reach out to your employees and offer further support and appreciation? It can be as simple as opening the conversation to let your employees know that you are aware that some of them have caring responsibilities and that they can talk to you if they need assistance with their situation. You may find that opening dialogue will allow your employees to share their needs, find a way to balance their lifestyle more effectively, and become more motivated and focused on their work.
If yours is a larger workplace, why not create a network or space where they can connect with one another and share support and knowledge? This goes top-down, so work with your managers to ensure they can support and make their staff aware of these networks.
It’s essential as a business that people in these situations are looked after. Better still, an employee who feels their employer is supporting them is more likely to be engaged, loyal, and productive. Let’s use Carers Week as a starting point for offering further support and benefits to ensure a happy and motivated workforce.