National Carers Week (11-17 June) and the launch of the Governments new Carer’s Action Plan is the perfect time to look at how you support the carers in your workforce.
• Did you know that 6.5 million people in the UK are carers – providing care for someone who is older, disabled or seriously ill? That’s one in nine in your workforce.
• One in five people aged 50-64 have caring responsibilities – three in five of us will have caring responsibilities at some point in our lives.
Whether you provide care to someone you live with or they live many hundreds of miles away, just for a short period of time or for many years, many of the challenges carers face are similar. They can find it difficult to get access to the information they need, to co-ordinate support from different services and to juggle their caring with their other responsibilities.
Balancing caring responsibilities requires advanced project management and negotiation skills as well as empathy and emotional resilience - all of which are invaluable to the operation of any organisation.
However, because of the demands and difficulty of balancing work and caring, 1 in 5 carers give up work altogether. But as an employer, you can make a huge difference to the lives of working carers. By putting policies in place, you can better support the carers in your workforce and enable them to remain in work.
Many companies, like Aviva, are seeing the business benefits of retaining carers.By retaining carers you are retaining knowledge and expertise. In addition, you can benefit from reduced recruitment costs from staff turnover and increased customer satisfaction which comes from having an age diverse workforce that reflects your customer base. Centrica has reported £2m savings of £4.5m in absence costs and £2m through retention costs.
At Business in the Community we recommend that all employers take action to support carers at work. We encourage companies to become Age at Work partners and we have a wide range of resources to help companies to take practical action to support Carers and to retain, retrain and recruit older workers.