Sarah Churchman, chief inclusion, community and wellbeing officer at PWC, led a session on the additional support the employer has offered to working parents. She said: “We have been aiding our people as they search for provisional child care help, or are in need of back-up care. We are seeing this support expand through online portals and other valuable sources of personalised support.
“PWC has also offered employees maternity or paternity transition coaching. That level of training can help people to maintain confidence when they are departing from the organisation on extended leave.”
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The organisation has further offered informal support such as signposting advice and opening up an internal network to give working carers a platform to share their experiences. Churchman discussed how the need to directly support carers has been accelerated due to the pandemic. She said: “We made some early interventions to support all of our people by prioritising their health and safety. We did this by looking at their personas to understand what individuals are going through and what we can do to help them.
“This understanding of employees included finding out what challenges our working parents and carers were going through. It was important to recognise these areas and put in place clear messaging on how to address this.”
Churchman explained the range of benefits that can be offered to working carers has expanded drastically: “Organisations can tap into both informal and formal support to aid employees with caring responsibilities. There has been an increasing number of benefits that employers are now able to offer working parents, ranging from extended time off to emergency back up care. However, there is always more required to ensure the employees with caring responsibilities are being fully supported.”
She believes that there will be many instances where the pandemic could impact gender equality in the workplace. Churchman said: “Organisations need to understand that a performance management session may not factor in the external responsibilities of working carers. When organisations look to cut costs, it will heavily impact those who have been struggling to combine their working responsibilities and their home roles during this pandemic.
“This puts a spotlight on the need to support all of our people and not just forget the responsibilities that carers have at all times.”
Churchman closed by stressing the importance of caring for its workforce: “It is our role as employers to give our people the best opportunity to fulfil their responsibilities at work, these are so dependant on whether they are able to fulfil their responsibilities outside of work. It is a blend of formal policies, but also informal relationships that can be built to ensure that we have a diverse and fit for purpose workforce, allowing all employees to perform at their very best.”