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How can you support your employees’ professional and personal commitments?

By Yvonne Smyth, Head of Diversity & Inclusion, Hays

 

Working remotely has led to many of us having to readdress our work-life balance now that the boundary between the two can be so easily blurred. Progressing your career while working from your home alongside a partner, children or housemates can prove challenging, especially when you add caring responsibilities into the mix.

According to recent research from Hays which surveyed over 13,500 professionals across the UK, over a third (34%) working remotely during the pandemic have also had caring responsibilities. Of those who said they had had caring responsibilities, about half report splitting these responsibilities with a partner. It’s sometimes tricky to see how people’s personal lives impact their job, particularly when much of our contact is limited to being through a screen – but juggling caring responsibilities with a job can cause a conflict of priorities and potentially have consequences on your employees and your organisation.

If you’ve lost touch with your employees in this position or are not sure how to go about supporting them, here are some things to consider.

How it can affect your people

While everyone’s situation is unique, our research highlighted some clear ways in which caring responsibilities are taking a toll on employees. Work-life balance was the primary casualty – in fact, over half (55%) with caring responsibilities said that this has negatively impacted their work-life balance. A negative impact on mental health also came to the fore, as over two-fifths (43%) say they have suffered in this way as a result of their caring responsibilities.

Of the myriad of ways in which professionals can be affected by juggling caring responsibilities with work, we also found that negative impacts on relationships with colleagues and career progression (31% and 18% respectively) were two other consequences.

It’s worrying to think that so many professionals may have been affected in these ways and highlights just how important it is to offer adequate support.

How it can affect your organisation

It goes without saying that the health and wellbeing of staff ought to be the number one priority for all employers, which encouragingly, has been brought to light during the pandemic.

However, as an employer you also need to be asking yourself another key question, which is how your organisation is being impacted as a whole. If your staff are struggling, they won’t be able to bring their best selves to work each day, and their lower productivity and morale will bear consequences for your team and the wider business.

Ultimately, if staff don’t feel that they are getting the support they need, they will seek it elsewhere. This is backed up by our survey which, alarmingly, found that over half (55%) of employees are looking for a new job because they didn’t feel that their employer supported them with their caring responsibilities. Employee loyalty and productivity were also highlighted as organisational areas which can be affected.

How you can support

Employers have a key responsibility to make sure that their employees are able to come to work each day, perform at their best, and then switch off and be present in their personal lives. It’s therefore so important that adequate support is in place for those with caring responsibilities. Encouragingly, over half (54%) of employees said their employer has been fully supportive of these commitments while working remotely, but clearly there’s still room for improvement. If you’re not sure what the best course of action is, here are some pointers:

  • Speak to your staff. Find out what their situation is and what they might be dealing with outside of work (while being sensitive to their privacy). Ask what support they need from you and what might make their work life easier
  • Highlight good work. Employees with conflicting work and personal priorities might feel anxious about how well they are performing in their job. Point out great work or extra effort to reassure employees in this situation
  • Provide official training. While your support is certainly necessary, wellbeing training or counselling will provide employees with practical tools and resources to make the best of their situation at home and at work. One option you could consider is Hays Thrive, our online training portal that offers free training courses for employees including wellbeing to enable them to overcome stress and improve their mental health

As childcare remains limited for many who continue to work remotely, employers need to continue to help employees who might be struggling to manage their responsibilities inside and outside of work. With the right support, all employees will be able to put their best foot forward each and every day at work – which is only ever a good thing for their careers and your organisation.

For further resources and insights on topics including how to support your team’s wellbeing, managing hybrid teams, and recruiting remotely, visit our Inspire Me in the New Era of Work hub.

About this author

Yvonne is Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Hays, working with our clients to ensure their recruitment strategies are aligned with the latest equality, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) policies and initiatives. She is responsible for creating and implementing diverse recruitment strategies that effectively support the representation of more diverse staff profiles within their business.

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