Our expert

  • Laura Matthews

    Laura Matthews

    Senior Wellbeing Consultant

  • Carers Rights Day 2021 really got me thinking, and I felt empowered to share insights from our latest research around the topic.


    At BW, the “cradle-to-grave” concept is ingrained throughout our benefit offering to our clients. With that concept in mind, we will all need support from others at some point during our lives. Whilst some of us may not need much support right now, invariably when we enter the later stages of life, we may rely on others for help, especially if we live into our late 80s, 90s or beyond.

    Part of being a good human being, is being caring and considerate. The social networks around us, whether it’s friends or family, ensure we care for one another. However, there will be times when they might rely on us or someone else to help with their basic needs, and this could develop into a regular commitment. For the one offering their time and support, they may not be aware but they now fall into the category of an unpaid carer. Carers UK estimates that in 2020 there were around 13.6m people providing care in the UK, which is saving the economy around £132b every year.

    Throughout our lives, most of us will provide unpaid care in some form, and whilst the act of helping someone can be rewarding and fulfilling, this could, at times, be detrimental to you. It can be hard work, isolating and at times stressful. Learning to juggle the commitments of a job, daily life, your own family, and care support can be physically, mentally, and even financially draining. Carers UK found that during the pandemic, a little more than a quarter (26%) of employees where juggling work and care responsibilities.

    Are employers doing enough to support employees?

    Whilst some employers really recognise the importance of supporting employees needs when it comes to caring, there are some who simply don’t. This may seem surprising amid the ‘Great Resignation’, where organisations are facing recruitment issues and the war for talent is becoming very fierce. Retaining key talent should be on everyone’s agenda right now; if you want to retain talent in this new landscape, you need to move with the times.

    Our research – key findings

    We conducted a piece of research earlier this year*, whereby we asked just under 2,500 UK plc employees about their feelings around the workplace, including questions productivity and wellbeing. Various demographic questions allowed us to focus on different cohorts of people, in this case those who had caring responsibilities.

    According to Carers UK, 1 in 7 people having caring responsibilities whilst holding down employment, which can make up a significant chunk of any workforce. Flexibility is probably the biggest support mechanism for anyone with caring responsibilities. However, we found that flexibility, or lack of, had a profound impact on the wellbeing of careers. When their employers were not flexible, 46% felt that their wellbeing was directly impacted. Not only did their employer’s inflexibility affect them, but more than half (55%) didn’t feel supported throughout the pandemic, with 44% saying they felt a decline in their mental  health. Given that the pandemic has put huge strain on people’s mental health, and there is an upward trend of those seeking support, mental health will be set to continue to challenge organisations and their employees for the foreseeable future. Therefore, organisations need to act now.

    Continuing with the carer’s cohort, rather worryingly, the data found that due to the lack of support, flexibility and declining mental health, 31%of respondents were now searching for a new job. This contributes to the Great Resignation but, in this case at least, can be easily fixed.

    Caring responsibilities can have an impact on finances too. Our research found that the pandemic had impacted finances of carers to the point where 17% were struggling to pay their day-to-day bills, 11% were struggling with rent or mortgages payments, and 8% had to turn to a foodbank. These needs form the basis of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and if this is the knock-on effect of the pandemic on your employees, do you know about it? If not, you need to ask!

    How we can help you

    BW are delighted to announce our partnership with Legal & General’s Care Concierge Service. This will deliver demand, support, advice and guidance to those caring for elderly relatives. At BW, we understand the importance of caring, especially when it comes to later life, so we will embed this into our offering as standard to all clients going forward. This will help organisations meet their duty of care, thereby removing additional worry and stress placed on the employee when facing care responsibilities.

    If you need further information about this topic, or want to discuss how your organisation can better support to your employees, please get in touch below.

    *BW conducted a survey of 2,001 employees in the UK between 29 April and 4 May 2021, asking them about the future of work. All respondents were over 18, and sole traders were excluded.

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