Building the business case for employee eldercare support
Many sales organisations run on building business cases to persuade customers to buy. So why not use the same approach to persuade your employer of the business benefits of supporting experienced employees who care for elders?
Nearly half a million people have given up their jobs in the last two years because they can’t find a way to balance work with eldercare. This is a disaster for both employer and employees.
Businesses have the opportunity to help their staff juggle the demands on their time so that they don’t lose their valuable skills and experience.
Some organisations are already there. British Gas, owned by Centrica, wins awards for its eldercare policy. Others are working just as hard, including Bank of America Merill Lynch. But at the other end of the spectrum there are companies that just don’t get it, and need help to understand how they can support working carers.
Building a business case
Why would an organisation devote time and resources to supporting workers with caring responsibilities?
Here are a few pointers to help you present a business case to your managers.
The right thing to do. This may seem like a vague benefit, but to a company which already has to publish its policies on environmental and employment issues, a strategy on eldercare can raise the profile of the company in the eyes of its shareholders, employees, partners, and the media.
Talent retention. Companies talk about talent retention a lot. They know they want to retain experienced and knowledgeable staff because they are key to the smooth running of the business. There is also a significant cost in hiring and training replacement staff – including lower productivity while they learn the job. The focus in talent retention tends to be on personal development and training, as well as tempting benefits. A next step that helps mid-life carers achieve a work/life/care balance makes good business sense.
Employee wellbeing. Tired, anxious and distracted staff do not perform as well as they could. Organisations know this about new parents. They should also understand that this affects older employees, and can last for many years.
Reducing absenteeism. There is still a belief in many organisations that taking time off for eldercare, especially in an emergency, is really not on. Line managers and colleagues can get quite sniffy about it. It’s no surprise that numerous employees will cite their own ‘illness’ when they’ve actually got to get to their parents in a hurry, or simply take them to an appointment. This ad hoc absenteeism can be addressed if businesses look at eldercare in the same way as many consider childcare, and enable employees to feel understood and respected.
You can find more ideas about building a business case and some interesting case studies on the Employers for Carers website. This is a membership group for organisations who want to support their employees who care.
How do you encourage your employer to support eldercare?
Talk to your line manager. How successful this is will depend on their attitude to supporting carers. There is huge disparity here, with some highly empathetic and others with little sympathy. In eldercare it really is a case of not understanding the challenges until you have been there yourself.
Talk to HR. This may be a more fruitful line of action. HR will have a more direct line to senior management, and can encourage business leaders into joining employer groups and instigating internal programmes.
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