Who cares? Top tips for managing carers within your workforce

16 February 2017 -


Someone in your team will probably have caring responsibilities. Here’s how to acknowledge and accommodate them

Some 10% of the workforce are caring for someone. And caring responsibilities are likely to affect 60% of the population within 10 years. How would you cope if you were a carer? Would your company understand the personal impact? As an organisation, are you ready to support your employees?

If the answer is ‘no’, you’re not alone. Carers are often concerned about the effect that caring responsibilities may have on job security, their future earning potential and their career prospects. Failure to address these concerns can lead to a decline in performance and morale, and, worse, attrition.

How to provide support for carers

The first step is to make time to talk to people and understand what’s happening. Just recognising the issue can remove fear and make it easier for good people to do great work. The hardest aspects of being a carer are predicting the future and conveying the personal impact to others.

With prolonged illnesses or learning disabilities, conditions can vary daily, so ongoing management can be tricky to fit into your working life and explain to others. Flexible solutions are key for carers. Some will be easy and quick to implement, such as a change of work location or working from home, adjusting start and finish times, granting permission to attend medical and care meetings during the working day, providing access to support services and provision of technology.

A ‘caring passport’ is a useful document to help communication. It allows someone to define their situation and the support and changes they need. If they are changing their work role or manager, the passport will allow them to transfer information across the organisation without having to keep explaining distressing details.

Regular reviews (at least half-yearly) are essential. As a manager, don’t be afraid to ask questions or check that you understand the situation. Urge managers and individuals to use internal assistance programmes, medical schemes, stress counselling, and HR support if they’re available.

Some companies have set up internal networks or web-based social networks, allowing groups of employees to share and resolve issues independently. Talking to other employees in similar circumstances can be therapeutic. And having a senior sponsor or manager lead the network provides visible assurance that the company values the participants.

Here’s a range of resources for organisations and individuals with caring responsibilities: bit.ly/cmi-carers

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