Oliver Black, Founder of My Family Care on the rise of the secret carer: Time for employers to wake up

Sandwich generation

Oliver Black is one of the UK’s better known childcare entrepreneurs – the founder of My Family Care and a non-executive director at Tinies and Conviviality. My Family Care was founded in 2006 with support from IBM’s work / life balance fund and has established itself as the leading provider of work and family solutions for many of the UK’s best-known employers including IBM, Pfizer, Shell, P&G, Freshfields, UBS, Barclays, Baker & McKenzie, Bank of America, McKinsey, Deloitte, Citi, KPMG, Rolls-Royce and Santander. In his spare time Oliver is a proud father of three young children, which some describe as “living the brand” and is a fan of endurance races and sport.

Oliver Black

Oliver Black

“…There are 2.2 million people not working because of caring responsibilities, 60% of whom would like to. Research from the Centre for Economics and Business Research revealed that an over 50,000 Britons will quit their jobs to care for relatives with dementia this year…”

“No-one beats the system”

Having read the research released by the CIPD last month my first thought was – it’s common sense. My folks are in their 70’s, fit, active and healthy and I have a young family of three children…, but to quote my father, “no-one beats the system”.

2.2 million people not working because of caring responsibilities

The research found that one-third of employers reported an increase in absence levels because staff are failing to cope with their caring responsibilities outside of work. There are 2.2 million people not working because of caring responsibilities, 60% of whom would like to. Research from the Centre for Economics and Business Research revealed that an over 50,000 Britons will quit their jobs to care for relatives with dementia this year.

Number of people over 60 is going to double over the next decade

Regardless of whether we like it or not, we “can’t beat the system”.  There are more people over 60 than under 18 and that number is going to double over the next 10 years. Combine that with those individuals who are already working carers and we’re talking about some big scary numbers. It’s concerning to hear that just one in six businesses have policies to help employees achieve a better balance between their home and working lives.

We aren’t just parents and we aren’t just carers

Barclays call it their “multigenerational” project; others call it the Sandwich Generation. We aren’t just parents and we aren’t just carers. We are going to have caring responsibilities in a number of guises on both ends of the spectrum, all whilst trying to progress our careers and get some work done.

So for businesses, “family-friendly working practices” are not simply an employee benefit. They represent the most commercially sound way of harnessing the potential of a generation of talented people whose working lives need to dovetail with many other roles and responsibilities.

Employees who are helped to combine career and family successfully can be the most engaged

Employers who respond to the needs of working parents and carers are shaping a workplace fit for an evolving workforce. Get it right and the employees who are helped to combine career and family successfully can be the most engaged, productive and loyal members of the team. You win. They win.

No magic solution

For those looking for solutions, I would focus on a number of areas. There is no magic solution, one size doesn’t fit all, and culture is always going to be more important than policies. The CIPD have rightly highlighted managers as a key source of where these policies – flexibility working and shared parental leave – and the right conversations have to live.

Making sure line managers have the resources and help they need, when they need it

This is certainly true for us. Whilst we have a lot of the practical solutions in place for our clients – things like Backup Child & Eldercare, the ability to speak to a Care Expert, our Carers resource etc – we are now busy focussing on how we can make sure that line managers have the resources and help they need, when they need it. To make sure they can have those “all important conversations” that multigenerational employees are going to need to have to make sure they can successfully combine work and family.

https://www.myfamilycare.co.uk/

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