Challenges faced by working carers are increasing but research shows employers are looking to offer greater support
• Simplyhealth research released today reveals nearly two-thirds (64%) of HR decision makers surveyed in larger businesses are interested in offering a digital advice service to support working carers
• Almost one in six (58%) larger businesses would be interested in receiving an accreditation outlining positive approaches to supporting working carers
• Research coincides with launch of ‘Helping employers support their working carers report’ from Simplyhealth and think-tank The Work Foundation
The UK has an ageing population with as many as one in two* people juggling caring for a loved one with paid work, placing them under significant physical and mental stress that can have an effect on their own health. However, latest research suggests employers are keen to better support working carers with almost two-thirds (64%) of HR decision makers surveyed in larger businesses interested in offering employees access to a digital advice service, according to latest statistics from everyday health company Simplyhealth.
This compares to less than half (43%) of HR decision makers at smaller businesses (with less than 250 employees) who would be interested in offering the same benefit to employees.
When considering support for working carers, almost one in six (59%) HR decision makers at larger businesses also showed an interest in offering employees access to an emergency carer service when the usual working carer is unavailable. Forty-one percent of HR professionals at small businesses were also interested in offering the service.
The survey, aimed at HR professionals, asked how interested their business would be in using or doing the following to support working carers:
Businesses with less than 250 employees
Businesses with more than 250 employees
Receiving an employer accreditation to outline positive approaches to supporting working carers
Give employees access to a digital advice service to provide guidance to working carers
Giving access to an emergency carer service (when usual working carer is unavailable)
Have access to an online forum for HR professionals to discuss working carer needs
Have paid consultancy services to advise on developing an internal care policy for working carers
Previous research from Simplyhealth has revealed that 42% of UK adults believe greater support needs to be offered to working carers in order to help fund a sustainable social care system**.The research coincides with the launch of a report from Simplyhealth and think-tank The Work Foundation following a policy workshop exploring how employers can support working carers.
The workshop acknowledged that working carers are often under significant physical and mental stress and are likely to suffer health problems of their own as a result. Help from employers could better support them in this role, which in turn can help improve an organisation’s productivity, morale and workplace culture.
Recommendations for employers following the workshop include:
• Establishing carers’ peer groups or support forums
• Sharing examples of good practice with other organisations
• Providing an online resource for employees
• Exploring how technology could help carers in the workforce
Unpaid, or informal carers, play a vital role caring for our ageing population, but we know some feel there is a stigma attached to caring for a loved one. Juggling care responsibilities and work can often leave working carers feeling isolated and lonely and ultimately some are forced to quit their job or take lower paid roles with fewer responsibilities.
However, employers are in a good position to support working carers. The alternative is the possibility of losing employees to stress, absenteeism and greater financial pressures that come with hiring new staff. Our policy workshop and research shows that employers do want to find ways to help. This is clearly an issue that is gaining awareness and traction with employers and I hope our report supports the ongoing conversation.
We know that combining paid employment with informal care can be challenging. Wherever possible, it's important that employers promote flexible working practices that are fair for all, which will better support working carers.
"New technology could revolutionise our approach to work and the way caring responsibilities are managed outside of the home, which is something that should be explored.
To enable employers to better support working cares, Simplyhealth has worked with employers to develop Simplyhealth Care for Life, a digital service available to businesses as an employee benefit, providing access to practical advice and expert support on care and healthy ageing.
Simplyhealth has also teamed up with technology company HealthUnlocked to develop an online freely-accessible peer-led forum so that those caring for elderly friends or relatives can share their concerns in a supportive environment. Visit https://healthunlocked.com/careforlife. To find out more about Care for Life visit www.simplyhealth.co.uk/careforlife
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 502 UK HR decision makers. Within this sample: 384 HR decision makers from large organisations (with 250 or more employees) and 118 from small organisations (with less than 250 employees). Fieldwork was undertaken between 22nd February 2018 and 2nd March 2018. The survey was carried out online.
Simplyhealth, in partnership with The Work Foundation, hosted the ‘Helping employers support their working carers’ policy workshop in London on Monday 6th November 2017.
*Simplyhealth consumer research conducted by Opinium to a nationally representative sample of 2,000 UK adults from the 2nd-5th December 2016
** YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,679 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 28th February and 1st March 2018. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+)