In order to offer valued support, retail banking organisation TSB initially set out to identify how many of its 5,000 UK employees are carers. In doing this, it discovered that around 10% have caring responsibilities and was able to establish a mutual acknowledgement between employees and managers about what help is needed and reassure staff that it would be provided.
In 2020, TSB introduced a carer policy that gives its employees up to 70-hours paid leave a year, providing flexibility to look after a dependent, family member or friend who has a disability, mental or physical illness, or an elderly relative. It also introduced a carer’s passport in which staff can outline their responsibilities as a carer and how this impacts their lives, aiming to give them and line managers the tools to work together to ensure that they get the support and time off they need.
The bank also offers counselling, advice, and financial and legal assistance through its partnership with Bupa, and flexibility in working patterns and hours. It signposts to external support, bursaries and advice such as the Bank Worker’s Charity, which it has paid an amount to that can then be drawn down by TSB workers. This year, it also gained level three carer friendly accreditation from the charity Carers UK, cementing its Carer Ambassador status.
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The bank has regularly promoted this to staff so they are aware of what support is available and feel comfortable asking for it, explains James MacGregor, interim HR director at TSB.
“A total of 240 employees have used 5,000 hours of paid leave specifically for caring responsibilities since the policy was introduced, which tells us that it is worthwhile and seen as important,” he says. “People really respect the time they have access to. They don’t want to abuse it and only take what they need.”
TSB wants employees who are full-time carers and those who may become carers in the future to know that this support is there for them if needed and that they work for an organisation that is sympathetic to their caring needs. The policy also helps with employee engagement, creates an inclusive environment and supports staff with caring dilemmas, preventing absence and turnover levels from rising.
MacGregor recommends employers that want to support working carers create an environment whereby they feel comfortable sharing personal issues they may be having now and in the future with their managers and know that they will listen.
“Training and equipping managers with toolkits are useful for this, as well as a holistic level of support that signposts to resources and doesn’t just include paid time off, as not everyone can afford this. This all helps to reassure employees so they feel able to ask for support and are less likely to be absent from work or leave their job,” he concludes.