Of six million carers in the UK, over three million combine their caring role with paid employment. As a result, over time they often pay a health penalty which can compromise their employment roles.
Researchers at the University of Sheffield Hallam’s Social Inclusion Centre investigated the benefits achieved by private and public sector organisations that allowed staff caring for others to stagger their hours of work from home. They found that flexible working practices reduced stress-related absence by over a quarter, significantly increased productivity and service delivery, and that “some companies reported savings of more than £1 million”.
BT reported savings of £5-6 million a year from introducing flexible working hours for its 102,000 staff. The telecommunications group, which has 11,000 employees working from home, said productivity has increased by 21% as a result of flexible working arrangements, and annual staff turnover was below 4 % compared with a sector average of 12%.
Caroline Walters, BT's director of people and policy and chair of Employers for Carers, an advisory group which promotes the benefits to business of supporting carers in the workplace, said: “Simple but effective measures such as implementing paid emergency leave can reduce staff turnover, cutting employment costs, yet increasing staff loyalty and productivity. This really is a win-win for employers.”
The report found the onus to be on managers to uphold a supportive culture and highlighted the importance of a trust-based approach which encourages employees to take responsibility for their own workload.
Source: Who cares wins: The social and business benefits of supporting working carers
Researchers at The University of Sheffield Hallam’s Social Inclusion Centre
Review by Abi Newman