When you think of care workers, you might be struck with images of selfless, generous individuals always prioritising the needs of their care recipients. And while the workforce is made up of hugely compassionate individuals, you can’t continue to pour from an empty cup. Many of the current workforce were the key workers who supported the most vulnerable people during the pandemic. But after the furore around ‘clapping for carers’ tunning down, they were left without the improved working conditions and salaries they desperately needed. Without addressing this, the care industry faces staff leaving the industry en masse.
It’s clear that workers need to be supported to best help those they are there to care for, and the industry has a lot to make up for, especially regarding benchmarking pay against their NHS counterparts. But meaningful change can also be made by providing the right emotional support. Improved staff wellbeing will come through this combination of financial investment and a changed company ethos, one that is open to supporting employees both mentally and physically. So, here are some steps care businesses can implement to ensure their worker’s wellbeing is a top priority.
Ensure that management promote a positive working environment
Company culture plays a huge part in how employees feel at work, so it’s vital that initiatives set by senior leaders are promoted by managers throughout the business. Middle management can be some of the most important catalysts for change in promoting this, as they are involved with both senior and junior members of a team.
Going beyond just offering access to mental health apps, these individuals should also lead by example, creating an environment where employees feel empowered to make use of wellbeing benefits. This could present itself in many different ways – encouraging the use of job sharing opportunities, providing mental health days and encouraging employees to take them, or providing perks your employees have told you that they want. Having these initiatives is useless if there isn’t a culture of using them, so you need to reassure your employees that they are there to be enjoyed.
Resources are available for companies looking for support in implementing new changes – with the UK government has published guidance on supporting social care workers and mental health charity Mind has guides on tackling the causes of work-related mental health problems. But for experienced care professionals like Graeme Lee, CEO of Springfield Healthcare, this focus on wellbeing needs to be driven internally.
“Springfield is about person-centred care. We’ve used this philosophy to guide our care for our residents, but we also extend that same level of consideration to our staff. This is how you radiate personable, considerate thinking into everything your business does. For us, it’s essential to run a company that is all about caring for individuals.”
Company benefits that actively aid wellbeing
Changing your team’s mindset at work is an initial step, but employees will really notice the difference when your actions start reflecting your words. This is where bringing in benefits that can boost employee wellbeing can be so valuable. The outdated trope of throwing pizza parties isn’t as desirable anymore – instead, many employees would prefer to be paid well and have good working conditions. Improved wages across the sector would also be a huge boost to the economy, worth a reported £7bn. Better-supported employees are likely to be happier and cost companies less in terms of sick days, stress leave, and less spent on recruitment due to higher retention rates.
For too long the care industry has relied upon a desire to help others from its workforce, even if it means taking low-paid positions. But initial investments in benefits that promote wellbeing has proven to be beneficial to all parties the long run, so employers should be thinking long-term when making these decisions.
Incorporating your staff’s wellbeing as a company target
If care companies are serious about prioritising employee wellbeing, tying this into performance reviews is a great way to keep accountability. There’s a reason why countries like Bhutan, New Zealand and France measure Gross Domestic Happiness (GDH) as a measure of economic output. Overall wellbeing and financial output are inherently linked, with growth in levels of happiness often happening at the same time as rises in Growth Domestic Product (GDP).
While levels of happiness and wellbeing are more qualitative, there are ways to quantify their impact, especially if a company is spending money on improving levels of wellbeing. Bhutan’s own measures of happiness across the country can be a good starting point for the areas a care business is interested in measuring. The first country to focus on these metrics to measure their national output, Bhutan records how a range of standards such as living conditions, health, education and ecological diversity impact overall happiness. Care companies could adopt these measures by tracking reported levels of happiness among their own staff and tracking the use of wellbeing benefits alongside this.
By committing to tracking these wellbeing levels as a business metric, management can treat this as another target to achieve, just as important as the business’ financial output.
An aging population is seeing demand outstrip service availability and workforce shortages means many providers are overstretched. That’s why it’s important now more than ever that employee wellbeing is promoted throughout the industry so that it does not fall behind. We’ve supported thriving care businesses across the country who have grown with happy employees, as well as a strong bottom line.
Our team of experts are known for providing flexible solutions, built specifically for your needs. Find out how we can help your care businesses with a flexible business loan.