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Top tips for creating a parent and carer friendly workplace 

National Lockdown 3.0 has reiterated the need for businesses to put strategies in place in preparation for last minute changes to operationCarers UK estimates there are around 13.6 million people caring during the pandemic, and with school closures and another hard lockdown announced this week, our workforce must once again reassemble the home and household bubbles to cater not only for their own needs, but for the wellbeing of those they are responsible for.  

 

Current issues  

Life can be challenging for working carers in the UK. According to the CIPD, 1 in 3 working carers fail to discuss their caring responsibilities with their employer – because they believe nothing will change in terms of support they receive. A quarter were also considering giving up their job entirely because of the difficulty they experienced in combining work and care. This too can be said for parents who feel employers may not understand or account for the pressures of balancing both work and parenting life. 

Carers keep families together, contribute immeasurably to society, and save the economy a substantial amount of money. However, whilst caring and parenting can be rewarding, it can also be incredibly stressful and isolating for employees who don’t get the support they need, particularly during a global pandemic. 

Employers are encouraged to be flexible and accommodating in their approach in these unprecedented times in order to support the challenges working parents face but also encourage a more relaxed approach to homeworking that in turn will benefit their business. 

 

Steps to implement in the workplace 

Define clearly what it means to be a carer 
  • Establish a ‘carers’ register’, where employees who identify as carers can access carers’ leave and other benefits. 
  • A voluntary carers’ passport scheme, where employees detail their individual needs and working arrangements. 
  • A process to identify carers through staff inductions, appraisals or employee surveys. 
  • Carer role models who are willing to talk about their experiences, break the stigma and encourage others to speak out and get support. 
  • A carers policy, drawn up by your HR department, to outline specific support available to careers. 
Introduce flexible and agile working 
  • Hire flexibly wherever possible to increase your talent pool, better retain staff and save on sickness absences. Use the CIPD’s flexible hiring guidance to think through how a role can be done flexibly from the start. 
  • Try to ensure that job requirements are properly aligned to the flexible working pattern, and vice versa. You might want to assess: 
  • Time – how many hours are needed to carry out the job? Is this a full-time role, a more than full-time role or a part-time one? 
  • Location – where do the activities need to be carried out? Can an employee carry out their duties from home on a regular basis? 
  • When – when do specific activities need to be completed by and can the individual’s working day start and end flexibly. 
Consider additional time off 
  • Provide additional leave to those with caring responsibilities or implement an IOU system whereby hours lost from working due to caregiving can be made up another day. 
  • Provide time off for emergencies, whether paid or unpaid, to alleviate the stress from urgent caregiving situations. This will likely improve your employees’ wellbeing in the long term, being comforted by the fact that their workplace respects these potential needs.  
  • Encourage parental leave or career sabbatical for rest and recuperationBy law, employees are entitled to take 18 weeks of parental leave per child, up until the child’s 18th birthday. However, this is usually unpaid.  
Promote healthy communication and leadership 
  • Focus on developing open communication between management and employees, encouraging employees to feel comfortable to unload stress and discuss their concerns, responsibilities and commitments with management.  
  • Provide training for managers to empower employees by promoting consistent and fair people management. 

 

Parents and carers already in a stressful and demanding position balancing work with responsibilities at home are now further impacted by national restrictions and the cautionary procedures required to combat the pandemic. Introducing flexible and supportive measures to accommodate for employees with external commitments is important factor in maintaining company morale and employee wellbeing.   

 

Skills for Growth – SME Support can assist your organisation and leaders by providing a unique wellbeing audit and comprehensive action plan to identify your wellbeing priorities and goals and well as benchmark your progress.  

Speak to our Health and Wellbeing Specialists on 0161 237 4444 today, or email enquiries@skillsforgrowthsme.co.uk for more information. 

 

Additional resources: 

The Growth Company Organisational Improvement | Leading Well 

Flexible Hiring Guidance | CIPD 

Benefits for Carers | Employee Benefits   

 

The Growth Company is an award-winning, not-for-profit social enterprise with a mission to enable growth, create jobs and improve lives. We provide individuals and businesses with a wide range of services that improve employment, skills, investment and enterprise for the benefit of all, and have been working in the Greater Manchester city region for more than 30 years. 

This project receives funding from the European Social Fund as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England.  

The Department for Work and Pensions is the Managing Authority for the England European Social Fund programme.  

Established by the European Union, the European Social Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support skills development, employment and job creation, social inclusion and local community regenerations. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding. 

About the author

Skills for Growth - SME Support

Skills for Growth - SME Support

Skills for Growth - SME Support is a fully funded, tailored service to help upskills your employees and improve business productivity. We're here to help you grow your business through re-shaping, developing your talent and enhancing your team's performance.