Considering the growing demographic of elderly people in society, it’s become more apparent to me that as employers we need to be looking at how we can support employees caring for elderly parents and relatives as well as children. After all, we are all living longer and it’s likely that a vast proportion of us will one day be faced with balancing our careers with the care needs of elderly parents.
I recently spoke to a couple of senior professionals who have found themselves in this predicament and provided a great insight, Tracey Bevis of Benson Finance and another anon, let’s call them Simone. The common theme was that whilst they desperately wanted to help care for their parents, they were faced with a huge professional dilemma. They need[ed] their employers to be flexible for hospital appointments, emergency care calls and generally, trustful of them that they’d fulfil their professional role but on some days this would not always fit into their traditional contractual hours.
Tracey explained that her mum has dementia and in 2015 “I had no choice but to leave a well-paid job because of my responsibility to look after my mum. I was told that I would have to put my mum in a home. So from that, Bensons was formed so I could agile work.” On the flip side, Simone explained that she had been able to remain employed whilst also having caring responsibilities for her parents because “luckily I have a boss and a job which allows me to be flexible. They recognise that I work hard and the work gets done.”
They both explained that unfortunately, like with children, there are unexpected calls when you need to go to care for your parent or there are a number of hospital appointments that need to be attended. This is along with the often interfered evenings and weekends when you have additional care responsibilities. Simone explained: “The trouble being that if you use all your holiday for caring responsibilities, you’re bloody knackered, you need holiday to refresh and be fit enough to do your job and care”. Tracey explained that whilst getting pressure from work and home, her wellbeing and health significantly declined. Now she runs a very agile and successful business whilst supporting her mum!
When I asked them both what needs to happen in the workplace, they both said “be flexible. Trust us to do our job well but sometimes within different hours”. This element of trust in any relationship breeds loyalty, the risk otherwise is that a lot of experience, business knowledge may have no choice but to leave the workplace like Tracey.
I appreciate that this places a squeeze on businesses potentially, but stat after stat shows that flexible employers tend to have the lowest attrition rates and the most loyal and hardworking workforce. There are of course flexible working requests but that’s another blog!
For questions over your businesses responsibilities in terms of flexible working or because you want to change your culture to support employees more, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 01425 205390.
Written by Gemma Murphy, Director