Helping employees, towards the end of a taboo?

They are 8 to 11 million in France, daily or regularly supporting a loved one with a loss of autonomy or with a disability. But what do we really know about them? Often stricken with invisibility, caregivers are nevertheless widely present in the business world. Nearly two-thirds (61%) of them work. In 2030, one in four employees will be a caregiver.

If the corporate world has long looked the other way, it will soon no longer be able to ignore the challenge ahead. In any case, this is the line defended by the Ocirp, a union of provident organizations which, for the second consecutive year, is devoting a vast study to employee caregivers.

Conducted by Viavoice with 3,104 employees from the private sector and 156 human resources managers or directors, it allows us to better understand their difficulties and their expectations, but also to take stock of the challenges for companies.

A load far from being anecdotal

First surprise: the average age at which employees become caregivers. It is 36 years old, against 39 years old during the previous barometer. “This figure surprised us a lot last year, and we thought it was due to a post-Covid year, therefore atypical. Wrongly, because this second edition confirms the trend”, observes Arnaud Zegierman, associate director of Viavoice.

How to explain it? “Reason is first and foremost sociological”, answers Marie-Anne Montchamp, director general of the Ocirp. “Our fellow citizens having children later, these children have older parents more quickly”, underlines the former deputy.

Another edifying figure: the weekly time spent by these employees with their loved ones is far from being anecdotal since it varies between one hour and more than twenty hours. “On average, this represents more than ten hours a week. Imagine, this corresponds to an employee who, every evening after work, spends two hours with his loved one”, illustrates Marie-Anne Montchamp.

The slow awareness of companies

According to Hélène Rossinot, public health doctor and author ofBe there for your parents (L’Observatoire), companies are slowly beginning to feel concerned by the subject. “Some are making efforts, often under the impetus of a director or an HRD who himself is in this situation. But overall, the corporate culture is not carer-friendly,” she regrets.

For employers, getting to grips with the issue is not always easy, while many employees remain silent about their situation. According to the Ocirp, only one in four informs his hierarchy of his role as a caregiver. Sometimes by choice, often out of ignorance, assistance (1) covering heterogeneous situations of which employees are not always aware.

Thus, three out of four employees believe they have been in a situation of assistance without knowing it. “This denial can be active: we decide not to talk about it, in particular for fear of being discriminated against at work”, explains Marie-Anne Montchamp. It can also be “passive”: “In some cases, the situation becomes progressively heavier, so that the caregiver’s awareness is not very clear. »

Gold “the ability of carers to recognize themselves as such is the sinews of war”, insists Arnaud Zegierman. If there is an urgent need to better support them – 29% say they are “distraught” because their caregiving burden is heavy and the support of their employer weak – companies first have an essential role to play in informing employees. Not just out of humanity, but because the performance of companies also depends on the well-being of caregivers. Their empathy, their organizational skills or their resistance to stress often make them assets.

Benefits for the company

For Marie-Anne Montchamp, “reaching out to these employees, reassuring them is therefore decisive”. And time is running out, the demographic shift is fast approaching. “In less than ten years, a whole generation of French people will experience the first signs of loss of autonomy. This phenomenon will be accompanied by major imbalances in the lives of employees that must be anticipated,” she warns.

“Obviously, the company alone will not be able to remedy all the difficulties that will arise for carers, recognizes Hélène Rossinot for her part. But simply changing the way you look at them would make a huge difference in the lives of caregivers. »


A barometer of business helpers

On the initiative of the Ocirp, for the second consecutive year, this study was conducted by Viavoice, in partnership with the National Association of HRDs (ANDRH) and the Observatory of Corporate Social Responsibility (ORSE).

Interviews were conducted online from June 23 to July 4, 2022, from a sample of 3,104 employees in the private sector, representative of the population of employees in the French private sector. Were extracted from this sample 1,027 employees in a “help” situation.

Representativeness is ensured by the quota method applied to the following criteria: sex, age, profession, region and sector of activity.

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