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Aviva: The business case for supporting staff with caring responsibilities

Sue Chittock, Aviva Insight and Diversity consultant

9 February 2017
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Employers for Carers estimates that one in nine workers are carers and one in six of these will leave the workforce due to their caring responsibilities. For Aviva UK that’s 1,700 carers, of which 300 are in danger of leaving. In the current economic climate it is an important time to retain skilled workers rather than relying on recruiting and retraining new staff.

This clear case for acting now to protect our workforce is why we have joined forces with the Department of Work and Pensions, the Department of Health, the Positive Ageing Company (part of Mercer Consulting), Age UK and Employers for Carers to develop a plan to deploy targeted interventions to support carers in our Bristol branch and measure the outcomes in both a quantitative and qualitative way.  Key performance indicators will then be compared with employees who will not receive the targeted interventions.

As our core business is focused on pensions, retirement solutions and health insurance, we are well positioned to consider how age and life-stages affect our customers. We are using these insights to take action to support our employees. Our interventions include additional line management training, provision of an additional five days paid Carers leave, staff toolkits, webinars, the Employee Resource Group, a carers network to enable information sharing and mutual support, and access to the online AgeingWorks portal.

We are hoping to see improved staff engagement and greater awareness and empathy across the workforce. In turn, we expect this to lead to reduced absenteeism, improved carer satisfaction, lower churn rates and higher productivity.

Working until the age of 70 and beyond is soon going to become the norm, if it isn’t already, as people live, and stay healthy, for longer. This shift in demographics must be harnessed by businesses, not shied away from.  This includes increasing awareness and understanding among employees of the challenges facing the “sandwich generation”, and, where possible, providing flexibility and support. It is also an opportunity to review “family friendly” policies, such as paternity and maternity leave and caring obligations, to enable a more consistent approach and ensure they are agile and able to promote flexible working to meet the needs of a multigenerational workforce.

Our project at Aviva shows the opportunity for collaboration between government, private sector and charitable organisations to improve the lives of carers in employment. It is being sponsored by Andy Briggs who has recently been appointed the government’s Business Champion for Older Workers and ensures a continuity with the Fuller Working Lives agenda.

Sue Chittock works at Aviva Insurance in their Diversity and Inclusion team. She is also a member of the Business in the Community leadership team which was recently appointed as the Government’s Older Workers Business Champion, with Andy Briggs, also from Aviva, leading as the chair.