How to target and provide benefits that specifically help carers

Did you know, UK employees will spend an average of 34 hours and 26 minutes at work every week? This adds up to 1,795 hours a year and 84,365 hours over a lifetime, according to analysis carried out by the Association of Accounting Technician’s in 2018.

How to target and provide benefits that specifically help carers

For many their work doesn’t stop when they leave the office; they have plenty to do when they get home. This is unpaid overtime, but not for their employer. They have caring responsibilities for one or more people, usually parents or other close relatives.

Five million employees in the UK are juggling caring responsibilities and work, according to figures from Carers UK. With a working population of 32.5 million people (ONS data, January 2019) this means more than one in seven are managing the pressure that comes with both roles.

These demands can take their toll; 72% of carers have suffered ill mental health due to their caring responsibilities, and 61% have experienced issues with their physical health due to the demands of looking after someone, found Carers UK. The challenges can be so great that 600 people leave their job every week as they can’t manage the requirements of both roles.

Talent is draining away from the workplace. So what can employers do to prevent this happening?

Employee benefit choice

Employers need to think about how they can offer their employees a wide range of benefits which they can pick and choose from depending on their own personal circumstances.

We conducted research in 2019 with sandwich carers – those people who have caring responsibilities for elderly relatives and children. Around 1.25 million employees fall into this category, according to Age UK’s Breaking Point report (2019).

Carers UK research found that 47% of these carers had not told their employers about their responsibilities outside of work.

Offering a range of benefits that can be easily accessed means employers can support their whole workforce without having to know everything about them.

Support for employees’ families

In our research survey, 23% said they would appreciate access to healthcare for their families, and one in five wanted their employer to provide them with eldercare vouchers. Assistance such as practical advice, information and ongoing help for carers, can make a real difference.

A report from found that a lack of support from the overstretched health and social care system, meant carers were often left on their own.

Take a flexible approach

Working nine to five is fast becoming a thing of the past. According to 2018 YouGov survey, only 6% of UK employees now work these traditional hours. Flexibility is vital for those with caring responsibilities. In our survey of sandwich carers, flexible working was the most desired employee benefit.

It is not just working hours that employees want flexibility around, it was access to their benefits too. They want to be able to access support wherever and whenever they may need it. In fact 76% of UK employees would like to access health and wellbeing benefits via an app on their phone, according to the daily workers omnibus survey conducted by Maru/Usurv (2019). The importance of accessing benefits outside normal working hours is also highlighted in data from BHSF’s GP helpline. Around 23% of calls in 2018 were made in the evening or overnight on weekdays and 20% at the weekend.

By offering benefits choice, workplace support and a flexible approach, employers can prevent talent draining away from the workplace.

This article is provided by BHSF.

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