Caring for our working carers
Understanding the challenges
We want to support everyone in their roles and help them to bring their best selves to work. Only by being aware of what challenges and responsibilities colleagues are facing at home, can managers truly be effective in supporting their teams and individuals to meet both their personal needs and those of the business.
Maxine, a Team Manager, explains how she came to understand the value of knowing her team and enabling an inclusive workplace. Maxine has four working carers in her team:
“In individual catch-ups I asked the working carers on my team to be as open as they can comfortably with me regarding what it’s was like for them being a working carer. It was a real eye opener. To be honest, I was very fortunate that all four felt they could open up to me, it meant I got a real understanding of what’s going on outside of work for them, as well as what’s on their minds constantly while in work. I, and the other managers, always try to be flexible with shifts and workloads, allowing colleagues to swap non-working days and workloads where we can. I’ll be honest, we’re still learning together but I try to be as flexible as I can when they need that extra support".
The importance of employee networks
Maxine’s experience mirrors the views of Lee Raybould, Leader of Data & Analytics, and Executive Sponsor of our employee Working Carers Network:
“Supporting all our colleagues to bring their whole self to work is so important. All carers are different, and their caring role will impact them and their day in different ways. Through regular conversations, getting to really understand the people who work with you and what’s important to them will make such a practical difference.”
Last year the Working Carers Network introduced the Carers Passport. This is completed by employees giving details of their caring responsibilities and is a conversation-starter when a colleague sits down with their manager to discuss the support they need.
Claire, Senior Manager and Co-chair of the United Network (where all our thriving employee networks meet) sees it from both sides of the fence:
“I think managers sometimes underestimate the difference between a working carer who is just ‘surviving’ to one who is thriving. As a working carer myself, it’s made such a difference that my manager has awareness of my situation and encourages me to work flexibly around any appointments or commitments without asking me to explain every time.”
Carers at Nationwide also have the option of up to five extra days of paid leave through Family Support Leave. If you need more time to care for a dependent, Carers Leave enables you to take up to 13 weeks unpaid leave if you have a sick, disabled or elderly partner or relative for whom you have caring responsibilities.
Showing that little bit of extra support can go a long way to making sure working carers feel able to be open and honest about the challenges they’re facing at home. So, on Carers Rights Day or any day, grab a cuppa for a colleague and find out what would help them.