Guidance on how to support employees who are, or will become carers
A carer can be anyone, of any age, who provides unpaid support to someone who is ill, disabled or frail. Most of us will not identify ourselves as a carer, when in fact 1 in 7 of us are providing care in some form.
Your organisation may already recognise and be supporting carers – which is fantastic – so you can use this checklist to review your level of support and adapt your approach if need be. If this is new to you, our HR checklist can act as a starting point in helping you become more aware of carers within your workforce and to understand their situation and the challenges they face.
Our HR checklist provides guidance across 3 key areas:
1 | Awareness of who carers are in your company
2 | Policies, resources, and support tailored for carers
3 | Communication and engagement with carers
Caring affects everyone differently. Whilst some employees cope well with their caring responsibilities, others feel the strain – impacting their performance at work, their social life and overall health. The approach your company takes shouldn’t depend on whether an employee provides care around the clock or for a few hours a week. It’s about having processes and support in place should employees need it.
To offer support is one thing, but your employees won’t utilise it if it’s not relevant or appropriate to their needs. Caring responsibilities differ from carer to carer and typically do not fall into a predictable or regular pattern. It’s crucial that your approach is responsive to their needs – flexing policies and personalising support where you can.
Awareness of carers
- – Create an employee wellbeing survey
- A dedicated survey or question in your existing employee survey will help you identify the number of carers in your workforce and their current situation.
- – Offer training or carer webinars to line managers
- Ensure line managers have the confidence to have sensitive conversations with employees and empower them to tailor their working arrangements to suit their individual caring needs wherever possible.
- – Review and amend performance targets and objectives
- Appraise objectives regularly so they work around your employees needs and try to be flexible with absence reporting. Double check that personal development is inclusive for carers so they don’t miss out on opportunities.
- – Include carers in your bereavement policy
- Be mindful of who employees are caring for and broaden your policy where possible. Consider paid or unpaid leave, timeliness to action an approach and sensitivity around team communications.
Support for carers
- – Holistic wellbeing and benefit provisions
- An EAP is a good start, but your employees need a combination of emotional, practical and financial support in-the-moment and on a more regular basis. Review your benefits package and check relevancy and specialism to support carers with such matters.
- – Signpost to a local charity or support group
- Ensure information on carer networks, local authorities and charities are easily accessible and appropriate. Use a mixture of sources that are local, generic and condition specific.
- – Allow personal calls or rest time
- Be mindful of carers’ responsibilities and accommodating these where possible. Encourage them to block out time in their diary or set ‘do not disturb’ on Skype or Teams to demonstrate flexibility, create transparency and to develop rapport.
- – Offer flexible working hours, paid leave or reduced hours
- Understand that caring responsibilities may be unexpected or irregular, so a willingness to tailor your policies around each carer’s needs will help them to manage stress and focus on the job in hand.
Engage with carers
- – Promote carer awareness days and include as part of your wellness calendar
- Your senior team should champion the needs of working carers and create a safe environment for carers to access and request support.
- – Start a fortnightly newsletter, internal social media account or quarterly CEO update
- Regularly promote carer support and policies using a multi-channelled approach (don’t forget to include those on furlough or other leave).
- – Arrange a buddy system, carer forum or lunch and learn event
- Utilise expertise from charities and resources from your benefits provider to engage employees and equip line managers with supporting carers in their team.
Let’s create a working culture that’s fit for the future. A future that enables employees to balance work, health and caring responsibilities.
Ready to take the next steps?
Our HR checklist provides you with some guidance on supporting carers within your organisation, but we can help you deliver a tailored approach. Get in touch for a no obligation chat on 0207 965 0286.