How is your absence level affected by employee caring responsibilities?

Our annual Absence Management survey, in partnership with Simplyhealth, has revealed a rise in the number of employees taking time off due to caring responsibilities. So what should you be doing to support your workforce?

Recent research from UKCES has predicted that there will be four generations working side-by-side by 2030. With this 4G UK workforce, employers are having to manage an increasingly diverse range of employee needs. We are seeing intergenerational issues coming to the fore; and in particular, we’re seeing a rise in the number of people with caring responsibilities. And this is an issue that is set to increase given the growing ‘sandwich generation’.  As people have children later, and are looking after parents in the ageing baby boomer generation, people are finding themselves sandwiched juggling caring for both their children and older relatives.

It’s more important than ever that organisations address this issue now.

How does your organisation help carers to manage their work and their home lives? Just one in six organisations has a specific policy or guidelines in place for employees with caring responsibilities. And in a separate CIPD survey we found that almost half of employers don’t train line managers to manage teams of different generations.

Of those employers who provide support, flexible working is the most common offering. And with the right to request flexible working now extended to everyone, employers need to be giving serious consideration to the business benefits of staff flexibility.  It’s essential to train line managers in how to deal with flexible working requests and have constructive conversations with their team about the options available. For example, is it possible to offer flexible start and finish times, compressed hours or part-time hours?

Overall it’s clear that businesses need to adapt to the changing world of work and offer better flexible working opportunities to support diverse workforces, which will ultimately drive organisational success, as employees will be more motivated, engaged, and work harder. Offering flexible working options also extends your talent pool, being attractive to highly skilled and experienced people who may not be in a position to work traditional hours.  And with 70% of employers we surveyed saying they believe it’s possible to reduce their absence level, looking at how carers can be better supported could have a significant effect on achieving this.

The full CIPD/Simplyhealth Absence Management report is available here

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  • More than one in three employers report that absence levels have increased because their staff are struggling to cope with their caring responsibilities outside of work, according to a survey by the CIPD – the professional body for HR and people development.

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