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Understanding Employees Who Are Ill Or Caregivers

Taking care of your employees is essential: both for their professional involvement and for their personal development. Many people spend an average of 36.3 hours per week at work. The professional environment is therefore a place of life and above all of exchanges. However, there are still very few employees who dare to talk about their personal problems in the office. But how can you ensure the well-being of your employees, and in particular their health needs? 

Different profiles for different needs

Depending on the company, there are different employee profiles: women, men, parents, young graduates, people in early retirement, people who work in the office and / or in the field, managers, workers, secretaries, office workers, but also half-time therapeutic, full-time, part-time employees. In short, each employee is unique, so it is normal that their needs are also unique. By paying more attention to the health needs of employees, we can still identify two distinct statuses: 

1) The employee patient: accidents of life, chronic illness / disability, maternity

2) The caregiver: caring for a child or a parent suffering from a chronic illness or who has become dependent on their age 

As you will have understood, a patient employee can become a caregiver and vice versa. But it can also be both at the same time! Let us see what these statutes imply in the professional environment. Understanding and communication will go a long way.

A health trouble as an employee in a company

Whatever the ailment that affects them or the moment in their life, whether temporary or chronic, the patient employee will keep their employer or direct manager informed. In fact, in the event of a scheduled operation or when a work accident occurs, the employee will be on sick leave and his professional activity may then be disrupted for some time, without major consequences. For an employee who is diagnosed with a chronic disease such as cancer, taking charge of their absence is more complex because it has more impact on both the employee and the company. Adjusting working hours or even a prolonged work stoppage of several months may then prove necessary for the well-being of the employee.

Being an employee helping in a company

Just like the patient employee, the helping employee will sooner or later alert his employer to his situation. By definition, the helping employee accumulates their work during the day and in the evening, takes care of their loved one who is ill or in loss of autonomy. The professional situation of the helping employee may be more or less impacted depending on the evolution of the illness of the loved one. If the relative’s situation deteriorates, the employee may be required to be absent from his workplace repeatedly. Some even go so far as to have their employment contract modified to reduce their time in the workplace.

Being afraid of being stigmatized if you are sick or if you help a loved one is also the daily life of some employees. Thus, management and working conditions must be open to discussion and transparency, while respecting professional secrecy. During these difficult times also, it is important to remember that some people are still very nervous about Covid-19 and even the strictest rules and even vaccinations can still lead to problems. That is why it is important to talk to all employees and see what their personal needs and fears are. You can discuss many things with them, including workers comp insurance and more, as an example. 

There are other solutions

To relieve the daily lives of these patient and caregiver employees, solutions and services can be implemented within the company to relieve and support employees. The integration of a caregiver / nursing home within the company for example:

1) Call for occupational medicine 

2) Creating an infirmary 

3) Establishment of a social or psychological help 

The creation of a Quality of Life at Work (QVT) policy:

1) Solidarity leave between colleagues   

2) Days of caregiver leave and sick children 

3) Extended paternity leave (ie: Parental act) 

4) Training of managers in good QWL practices  

5) Offices adapted to avoid MSDs (musculoskeletal disorders)   

6) Sport / coaching and nutritional balance at work  

7) Company mutual insurance company 

8) Support such as concierge, dedicated health service 

HR must play a role

The correlation between a company’s productivity and the well-being of its employees no longer needs to be proven. Do you want to boost the well-being of your employees? Well it is important that HR play a role in getting to know staff and giving them the help they need from day one. This truly begins on the very first day that they begin their job and they should be made aware of issues and problems that may arise in the business so that it can be dealt with appropriately. 

1. Get to know your employees

The first thing to do is get to know your employees, personally. This step is very important because all the actions that you can implement subsequently will result from it. Are your employees young? Seniors? Do they have young children? What are their areas of interest? their hobbies? their passions? Do they prefer to work in closed offices? In open space? It is only once you have identified your employees that you will be able to increase their well-being.

2. Develop team spirit

To increase social cohesion within your company, many solutions exist depending on your employees, your budget and the size of your company. The aim is to create cohesion and not to exclude people who might, for example, not like a certain food or hobby.

3. Make the hours more flexible

Numerous studies have proven it: flexibility in working hours is a very important factor in the well-being for the majority of employees. Providing a flexible and flexible working time slot allows employees to reduce their stress and to be able to better reconcile personal and professional life. Work flexible to work better and boost the efficiency of your employees. We have proven with Covid-19 that we can work effectively from home and people are even working better! It proves that with a little know-how, staff can be working in flexible environments. 

4. Involve your employees

Your employees lack motivation? Seek to understand the causes. Sometimes it is a lack of well-being in their work. Knowing how to motivate your employees by allowing them to flourish, assert themselves and develop their talent is essential to stimulate their commitment and their sense of professional accomplishment. You need to get them excited about going to work. Have fun days for team building and incentify your staff. They truly need this. HR are responsible for helping deliver this and plan appropriately. 

HR should be involved 

As businesses transform, human resources (HR) managers need to be more flexible in the way they work as their employers demand a wider range of services from them.

Their main objective is to do everything possible to bring value to the company on many fronts: recruiting, retaining and managing employees, both individually and collectively, throughout the duration of their contract. Given the multiple nature of their function, HR directors have all kinds of challenges to overcome.

*Change management: The HR department is obviously involved in the “human” aspects of change management.

*Leadership development: The Human Resources department is supposed to provide the structures and processes necessary to identify the future leaders of the company, whether internally or externally.  

*Performance evaluation: In order to identify areas for improvement, HR managers should analyze performance across the entire company, including in the human resources department.

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