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Recently, my family and I have become very aware of the struggle to cope with caring responsibilities as well as work. In the acute phase of an illness the patient benefits from regular input from family and when the members of the family are widely dispersed it can require a full day to undertake a visit. As the condition develops into the next phase, the patient may be at home but requiring lots of input or may be staying with a family member.

New figures from the CIPD, show that just one in six organisations have policies in place to help achieve a better balance between their staff’s home and working lives. They indicate that more than one in three employers report absence levels have increased because their staff are struggling to cope with their caring responsibilities outside of work.

Flexible working arrangements can make a huge difference and some employers offer compassionate leave or paid/unpaid carers’ leave. The CIPD/Simply Health Absence Management Survey (2014) research showed only one in six employers say they have organisation-wide policies or guidelines in place for carers, with an additional two fifths reporting that they offer support to individuals on an ad hoc basis.

If you are single or if both partners are working, the demands on time, energy and money can be high, resulting in ill health (stress) and reduced performance of staff who want to do their best for parents or relatives who provided them with opportunities and support during their life.

In the workplace, it is the manager’s responsibility to know the pressures that their staff are experiencing. Those managers with a high emotional intelligence quotient (EQ) will be able to have conversations with staff who are toiling with the challenge of caring. Good communication skills and empathy will ensure a profitable outcome is developed for both staff and organisation as talent and knowledge is retained and nurtured through what can be a very difficult period.


Ann McCracken is a Director of AMC2 and the vice president of the International Management Association (ISMA UK) – the professional body for stress management Practitioners.

She specialises in developing a positive and resilient working culture in organisations by introducing effective strategies in performance and wellbeing at all levels. The effectiveness of such a positive working culture is measured and assessed using AMC2 Corporate Diagnostic innovative surveys which include measurement of psychosocial factors, stress and wellbeing. Having initially trained as a scientist, she carried out research with DEFRA and consultancy in the NHS.

She spent 10 years in Education before retraining as a stress management practitioner in 1996. She is the author of Stress Gremlins©, regularly writes/broadcasts and is an external lecturer at Westminster University. She is also a Key Note/Motivational speaker/Conference Chair.

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