Carers + Employers accredits its first carer-friendly employer

Carers + Employers accredits its first carer-friendly employer

UTS is leading the way for carers in the workplace, recently being the first employer to become accredited as a carer-friendly workplace through Carers NSW Carers + Employers program. We spoke to Priya Viswanathan of the Centre for Social Justice and Inclusion (Equity and Diversity Unit) at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) to hear about their experiences, and to understand why they’re prioritising carers in their workplace. 

What was the trigger for UTS to become accredited with the Carers + Employers program?

At UTS, we’re always looking for ways to support our staff who are carers. When we heard about the Carers + Employers accreditation program, we were immediately keen to apply. It was a great opportunity to utilise a best practice framework against which we could conduct a full workplace review.  

Why is it important for UTS to recognise carers in the workplace?

We understand that many UTS staff will be carers at some stage in their life. Recognising the needs of carers and providing support has many benefits for individuals, for example flexible work can help balance work demands with carer responsibilities contributing to positive health and wellbeing outcomes. There are also many benefits to the organisation too, for example staff retention, improved health and wellbeing, productivity and performance.    

Where do you see the key areas for improvement within UTS, or workplaces in general to help create carer-friendly workplaces?

As part of our ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion, we have policies, initiatives, awareness-raising activities, and support systems in place for carers. But there’s still more we can do, and we look forward to an opportunity to review and refine this further as we progress through the accreditation program.   

I understand that many organisations may have standard support available for carers, for example leave options, perhaps even a policy.  However, more can be done by organisations generally to ensure individuals at all levels, particularly managers, are aware of carers’ needs, workplace support options, and the critical role they can play in supporting carers at work.

Also, organisations need to raise the profile of carers and recognise the valuable contributions they can make at work. Through carer roles, many carers may have further developed skills in juggling multiple priorities, empathy, flexibility, adaptability, transferable skills that can be a real asset in workplaces. 

Why is it important for UTS, and other organisations to be carer-inclusive?

Lack of inclusivity can impact the individual staff member and the organisation as a whole, but also the wider Australian community. For instance, it can be challenging for some carers to combine carer responsibilities with paid work. Individuals may feel the need to reduce their work hours, which impacts them financially. Or they may leave the workforce altogether, ultimately impacting the economy. 

What do you think contributes to carers feeling stigmatised in the workplace, and how do you aim to overcome this?

Broadly speaking, a lack of awareness and understanding of carers’ roles and needs can lead them to feel excluded, undervalued and contribute to stigma and myths about caring, for example assumptions that carers are not productive staff members or not interested in career development. This can be addressed through targeted education and activities to raise awareness. This includes normalising fundamental provisions that support many carers such as flexible work. And support from senior leadership of course goes a long way!   

It’s no secret that the number of carers and people needing care will increase dramatically over the coming years. What type of future do you hope to see for working carers?

A future in which all organisations genuinely commit to supporting carers at work, develop support options through consultation with carers and evaluate these initiatives to ensure they are truly impactful. I would generally like to see senior leaders taking an active role in championing carer initiatives and that conversations around carers needs, for example flexible work, are normalised in the mainstream and de-stigmatised.

Ultimately, I would love to see carers fully supported in combining a fulfilling career with their carer responsibilities. 

What advice would you give other employers who are wanting to create a carer-friendly workplace?

Every little bit helps. Initiatives don’t have to cost much but can make a significant difference. There are great resources to help you become carer inclusive such the Carers + Employers accreditation program and other resources from Carers NSW.  But the best resource is often the people within your organisation who are carers. Consult with them early and often to understand your goals and evaluate whether you are meeting their needs.  

What do you hope to achieve through your accreditation with the Carers + Employers program?

At UTS, through accreditation, we aim to continue to:

  • ensure our staff who are carers feel valued, respected and included in our University community
  • undertake workplace reviews and consultations to ensure that we are truly meeting the diverse needs of staff who are carers
  • celebrate carers and acknowledge their valuable contributions
  • increase awareness of the diverse needs of carers and the range of support available including   flexible work options.

Interested in becoming accredited as a carer-friendly employer? Visit www.carersandemployers.org.au or call (02) 9280 4744 to find out more.

News:

Accessibility:

High Contrast Switch

Carers NSW acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land, Elders past and present and all Aboriginal people.