With an increasing number of people juggling work and caring responsibilities, employers should pay more attention to the detrimental impact this can have on both individuals and businesses.
To help more employers understand the challenges faced by their employees with family and caring commitments, how this can impact their business, and what they can do to better support this group of workers, we’ve conducted research among full-time and part-time employees who have family and caring commitments, across a range of sectors and age groups.
Over three million people in the UK now juggle caring commitments with work, (for either elderly or sick loved ones) and the number of employed mothers with dependent children in England has risen by over a million in the past two decades, meaning almost three quarters of mothers work part-time or full-time.
What’s more, many working parents are in a situation where they’re likely to become carers in the near future – there are now 1.6 million people in the UK aged 85 or over and this figure is set to double in the next 23 years.
2. It’s costing employers money
Respondents take an average of 5.3 days off work a year due to family reasons (not including maternity or paternity leave) – which is higher than the average amount of sick days taken in the UK. Based on the UK average salary in 2017 by Office for National Statistics (ONS), you could equate that this costs employers £618 for every employee with caring commitments (calculation based on the 2017 ONS average salary of £29,009 with 252 working days (with 20 days holiday).
And this figure doesn’t account for the amount of sick days that employees are using up for the same family and caring reasons – 31.3% of employees said they’d taken a sick day if they were refused flexibility by their employer.
3. It can affect employee retention
Employee retention is also an issue for employers, with 22.4% of respondents stating they have considered leaving their job due to a lack of flexibility and support from their employer over their family care commitments.
This could be a big concern for employers, as the cost of replacing a single employee earning the UK average salary is said to be around £11,000 for a business.
4. It could affect employee productivity
Almost three quarters (74.5%) of employees we surveyed said that they find balancing their family commitments with work ‘difficult’ or ‘very difficult’ – and these results were relatively consistent across age ranges, gender, and both full-time and part-time employees.
So, it’s really no wonder that 86.1% of these employees said they’d experienced stress. Furthermore, over half (55.4%) of these respondents experienced financial problems, and over a third (35.8%) had experienced mental health issues as a result of trying to balance work with family and caring commitments.
This can have a negative impact for employers as stressed employees are much less likely to perform productively when they are present at work.
How should employees tackle the problem?
It’s evident that in order to keep engaged employees, and prevent avoidable costs through absenteeism, staff turnover and reduced productivity, companies should take the time to understand their workers’ circumstances, and look at how their organisation could adopt a more accommodating and supportive culture.
It pays off to do so, as one respondent we interviewed illustrated by telling us about the employee loyalty at his organisation as a result:
“A lot of people commit their whole careers to this company, it’s a business that really has long term servants, so providing flexible working hours and conditions is a core tenet of their employment strategy”
“To be honest, I’d rather work for myself, but the fantastic benefits they offer kind of lock you in and it’s hard to give that up”
If your company has recently implemented initiatives to support and accommodate for employees with caring commitments, share your tips and success stories with us on Twitter or LinkedIn using #workingfamilies
Founded in 1905, Benenden Health is a not-for-profit health and wellbeing organisation, offering award winning employee healthcare, plus an extensive range of onsite health assessments and a brand new business health cash plan.
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