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Connecting women and opportunity

Womanthology is a digital magazine and professional community powered by female energy and ingenuity.

Connecting women and opportunity

Womanthology is a digital magazine and professional community powered by female energy and ingenuity.

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Employers are struggling with absence levels due to ‘secret’ carers – Dr. Jill Miller, CIPD Research Adviser


Dr. Jill Miller joined the CIPD in 2008 and her research covers a range of people management issues, having led on the CIPD’s three year research programme, ‘Shaping the Future’, examining the drivers of sustainable organisation performance. Jill is also responsible for the CIPD’s annual Absence Management survey. The survey provides useful benchmarking data for organisations on the cost and causes of absence, as well as focusing on employee well-being and topical issues.

Dr. Jill Miller
Dr. Jill Miller

 More than one in three employers report that absence levels have increased because their staff are struggling to cope with their caring responsibilities outside of work. But, new figures from the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, show that just one in six organisations have policies in place to help achieve a better balance between their home and working lives. 

Supporting those with caring responsibilities to balance their work and home lives, and therefore retaining our talent, is a key issue. Recent UKCES research has predicted that there will be four generations working side-by-side by 2030.

4G UK workforce – intergenerational issues coming to the fore

With this 4G UK workforce, employers are having to manage an increasingly diverse range of employee needs. We’re seeing intergenerational issues coming to the fore; and in particular, a rise in the number of people with caring responsibilities. And this is an issue that is set to increase for the growing ‘sandwich generation.’ As people have children later, and are looking after parents in the ageing baby boomer generation, they find themselves caring for both their children and their older relatives.

Vital for employers to have strong wellbeing policies in place to support carers

It’s therefore absolutely vital that employers have strong wellbeing policies in place, and communicate the benefits of flexible working to their employees, who all have the right to request to work flexibly under new legislation.

But most importantly, line managers need to receive adequate training on how to have constructive discussions with their staff about the various benefits available to them. And it’s proven that flexible working can improve engagement and productivity within the workforce. With this in mind, hopefully in the future more workers will be able to handle the demands of caring.

Underlying deeper issues

…There are underlying deeper issues, with many employers telling us that employees are still struggling into work whilst sick, whilst others are struggling to manage work with home responsibilities. These pressures can have an extremely negative impact on the workforce. It’s important that employers address this presenteeism, in particular looking at managing workloads, so that when people are off sick they feel they can stay at home and recuperate before coming back to work.


Download the full report here .

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