With the UK’s population ageing, more and more people are taking on the responsibilities of caring for loved ones, alongside working.
A carer can be defined as someone who provides support and care for someone who has an illness, disability, mental health problem or addiction (mental health charity, Mind).
Looking after a loved one can be very rewarding but for someone who is juggling work too, it can impact on many areas of life, particularly mental wellbeing.
Stress, anxiety, lack of sleep and financial worries are all concerns that are commonly reported among carers.
Carers in the workplace
Estimates suggest that there are around one in nine working people who care for someone else. And this figure is likely to be higher, as not every person with caring responsibilities identifies as a carer.
A report by Carers UK reveals that one in five unpaid carers leaves or turns down a job because of caring responsibilities1. On top of this, 57% feel that their caring responsibilities negatively affect their wellbeing2.
With carers making up a significant proportion of the workforce, and the effects of caring on wellbeing so clear, it’s imperative for employers to take action to support working carers.
Without providing the guidance, emotional and practical support that working carers need, businesses risk losing talented employees who feel they can’t manage working and caring.
There are a number of ways that employers can support working carers including providing access to an employee assistance programme (EAP), setting up a support group for carers, and encouraging working carers to make use of flexible working arrangements.
Employee assistance programmes provide access to advice and counselling that allow employees to speak confidentially to a trained counsellor. For working carers, this support can offer a helping hand if they are struggling with a mental health concern, or even if they need information on a care-related issue. These services are commonly available 24/7, helping working carers access the help they need during their busy schedules.
Support groups or support networks for carers in your organisation enable them to get together, and share advice and experiences. This interaction can be very supportive, as carers can hear from others in similar situations. Support groups can also work well online, which could be easier to access for carers who work remotely.
Flexible working is another great way to support working carers, helping them redress their work-life balance. Ensure employees are aware of how they can request flexible working, and the different options that are available such as flexitime or remote working. Explain how adopting a flexible working pattern might help a working carer’s lifestyle; such as being able to structure their day around appointments or caring routines.
Caring is undoubtedly a huge responsibility and its effects on wellbeing shouldn’t be underestimated by employers.
We recently worked with client and charity, Alzheimer’s Support to
highlight some of the wellbeing issues that are present in the care industry,
and share ways that employers can help carers in their workforce – you can
watch the video below:
Hopefully, this provides some food for thought of some simple, straightforward solutions that can help you better support wellbeing for working carers, allowing them to manage their work alongside caring for a loved one.
1. Caring and Isolation in the Workplace report, Carers UK, 2015
2. Key facts about carers and the people they care for, Carers Trust, available at: https://carers.org/key-facts-about-carers-and-people-they-care
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