It is growing more important that businesses get employee benefits right for parents and carers.
When a working parent, or someone with caring responsibilities is at work, we all assume they are firing on all cylinders. And to be honest, most of the time we are! However, there are often unseen reasons from family life which get in the way and mean that while we are present in body, our minds may wander elsewhere every now and then.
A study by Harvard Business Review has uncovered interesting data on what the impact of being a carer, of the young or old, has on a person’s productivity in the workplace. The study by researchers, Joseph Fuller and Manjari Raman covers responses by 1,500 employees and 300 HR business leaders.
Whilst the report relates to the US employment market, the results would probably resound with working parents and carers in the UK.
Of the employees quizzed, those who had caring responsibilities, 80% felt that it affected their performance at work, while only 24% of the employers recognised this as an issue.
Is this simply because while we don’t feel we are giving our all, really we are, or is it because actually, businesses are too far removed to understand the needs of their employees or do they simply not care?
The study indicates that companies aren’t necessarily purposely ignoring the needs of their employees, as Joseph Fuller says:
‘Companies aren’t even at the point of wilful ignorance. Most don’t track the relevant data, and those that do offer some form of care-related benefits interpret the relatively low utilisation of those benefits as confirmation that there is no problem.’
What is the effect?
It may seem extreme, but employees are leaving their roles. According to the study, one in three of those people with caring responsibilities stated they had to leave a job because they could not balance their work and home life.
Many of these leaving roles were managerial and therefore more expensive and harder for businesses to replace.
When asked why they left, the biggest reason for leaving was ‘unaffordable costs of paid help’.
With an aging population the expectation of families to care for the elder members of the family will rise and this will possibly coincide with also having to care for young children.
What can employers do to help?
First and foremost, recognise your working parents and carers have these responsibilities outside their workplace.
Employers need to get a better handle on what the responsibilities of their workforce are. Use annual staff surveys to get an understanding of their needs, concerns and how they can be helped.
Consider flexible working. Childcare in particular can be very inflexible, so take away the stress of fitting work around childcare by offering parents ways of working around their routines. You’ll be amazed at how much more productive they will be when they aren’t worried about their child’s care.
Imagine the nanny of one of your management team has handed in their notice. Your manager is going to require time and commitment to secure new childcare. It is not emergency cover that is required, but a full-time, long term solution. They will probably spend your time thinking about this and perhaps have to take time out to finalise the help. Look to relieve the time and costs associated with the search for help. This can be secured for care at both ends of life.
Finally, think about a wellness programme. Provide employees with coping strategies for tricky situations, create confidence boosting clinics to reassure them they are doing well and finally, make sure you remain the employer they choose to work for. If you don’t your talented teams may walk out the door.
One final word…
…from report co-author Joseph Fuller, ‘I think the impact of care in the workplace is the equivalent of white noise – it is so omnipresent that it isn’t noticed. That’s why it’s so important to have employers understand that there are material, hidden costs associated with lost productivity and increased turnover. No employer is going to make a substantial incremental investment to accommodate caregivers’ needs until they are convinced that they will generate an attractive return.’
Parental Choice is the provider of choice for many international businesses in the UK, EMEA and APAC who recognise the difference being a working parent can be. We create bespoke support, benefit and reward programmes for corporate clients.
These programmes include:
So, if you are a business which wants to recognise your employees, help them with the stresses that any of their caring commitments may bring, but most importantly, retain those assets get in touch.
Email us firstname.lastname@example.org or we would love to chat to you 020 89796453.
You can find more information on our website.