Raven Housing Association is one employer which has thought hard about how to better support carers within its workforce. Why? “We understand that to create a great customer experience, you have to create a great employee experience,” summarises Gayle Hunt, senior HR business partner at Raven, which employs around 300 people.
Hunt and her colleagues made use of a pulse survey in July to ask carers practical questions about the impact of the pandemic and the introduction of flexible working. She shared some responses, which reveal how helpful flexible working has been to them.
One carer said: “It has allowed me to balance caring for my partner much better, with more time in the mornings and afternoons.”
Another explained: “Working from home more flexibly allows me to make sure my disabled daughter takes her medicine.”
The comments have been used to help to shape Raven’s future home-working policy, says Hunt. “The policy is all about allowing our employees the flexibility to shape work around their lives, trusting them to make a decision about where and when is the best time and place for work to take place.”
More broadly, Hunt and her colleagues are keen to boost their employees’ wellbeing. They arranged a series of workshops, Lessons from Lockdown, which were focused on resilience, mindfulness and dealing with change.
Hunt adds: “We are trialling some resilience workshops now. We are planning our first workshop at the start of December, with an organisation called the Wellbeing Project. The workshop will be focused on healthy boundaries, which is really pertinent when you are a carer and you have those commitments. So, using positive thinking, cultivating support networks; practical actions to help manage change and competing priorities and commitments.”
Financial wellbeing is another area where Raven is supporting its carers. “We have some financial education sessions coming up,” says Hunt. “The reason we have arranged them is that we are conscious money is the number one cause of stress across the UK. We know some of our staff, including some of our carers, have been impacted financially by the pandemic or their partners have been, the cost of living has gone up, there have been cuts to universal credit. It is a perfect storm, and we want to support our employees to help them feel financially secure.”
Hunt and her colleagues have not forgotten about people’s physical wellbeing. All Raven’s employees can access a health cash plan, helping them to save money on routine medical expenses and giving them access to free physiotherapy and wellbeing apps, among other benefits.
“We have an employee assistance programme and occupational health provision as well. They are really coming to the fore as something that is utilised and valued by employees,” observes Hunt.