“A whole range of solutions to build”
Thierry Calvatsociologist, co-founder of the Circle of Vulnerabilities and Society
“It’s important not to look at carers as a burden on the company, but rather as assets that bring useful skills and a different way of looking at things. Today, companies tend to look at carers through the question of load factors. We always wonder about their availability, the problem that it will generate to organize a meeting at the time of a medical examination, or the mental load that will be generated by entrusting them with a file that will require more intense energy.
However, even more than someone who helps and accompanies, the carer is in fact the real manager of a small production unit of care and accompaniment, which constantly builds solutions.
It is therefore very close to life in a company and I believe that it is important to recognize the full value of the potential developed by helping employees. With AG2R La Mondiale and the French Association of Caregivers, we have just carried out a study which identifies four blocks of valuable skills: self-organization, the ability to work with others, the management of complex situations and problems – with what it means to stress resistance and emotional intelligence – and mastery of technology.
By upsetting the hierarchical lines, the Covid has clearly shown the importance of these skills. And the carers, to the great astonishment of many, have been at least as productive as the other collaborators in the face of this new situation. I think that, in the coming world of constraints, carers, experts in shortages and complex situations, will undoubtedly be better able to do well through the skills they develop and that companies are looking for more and more.
Rather than managing a problem, it is therefore necessary to steer things by starting from the situation of caregivers and offering them local solutions. Because each carer is always at the crossroads of two poles: intensity – when he has to manage specific situations such as the relapse of an illness or the fall of an elderly person – and duration – in the context of chronic illnesses. Between these two poles, there is a whole range of extremely diverse situations.
In the same way, there will be a whole range of solutions to build with the carer, to create a path allowing him to manage the extra work and time to devote to the person being cared for: the gift of RTT, the caregiver leave (which society is struggling to grasp) or teleworking. The latter nevertheless has its limits: those who telework five days out of five risk finding themselves in a difficult situation. Many caregivers say how going to work changes their minds and boosts their self-esteem by giving them the impression of having a grip on reality. »
“It’s not a panacea either”
Christine Lamidel, Founder and CEO of Tilia
“Telework should not be seen as the miracle solution for caring employees. During confinement, we saw the difficulties of parents who found themselves homeschooling: it was very complicated to manage, especially for mothers who have children with autism.
Of course, teleworking can be a simpler solution, for example when it comes to being able to make private telephone calls at home, and not in front of colleagues, to coordinate several stakeholders with the person being helped. It can also make it easier to accompany a sick or disabled person to an appointment early in the morning and not feel guilty about arriving later at work.
The difficulty is that not all carers are at the same level or have the same needs; some do not even recognize themselves as helpers. Moreover, not all companies have the same means either.
This is why, with Tilia, which was born out of an “intrapreneurship” project at BNP Paribas Personal Finance, we are trying to provide a wide and extensive system for those who cannot do tailor-made. To help them identify the various problems and respond to needs, we provide employees with a complete overview by allowing caregivers to express themselves on their needs. We also talk with their colleagues and their manager to set up a virtuous circle.
The idea is to raise awareness in the company, to make it a subject so that it is no longer taboo. Because of the porosity between personal and professional lives, the physical and mental fatigue that assistance generates, this role of the company is essential to support the employee.
In this context, if it can be a solution, telework is not a panacea either. Many caregivers tell us how much going to work allows them to come out of a closed room with illness and disability. For them, work is an air bubble, an aeration. It is therefore more important to think of hybrid solutions combining telework and work in the company, because it makes it possible to maintain the link and not to isolate caregivers.
In the company, the solutions are multiple. There is telework, therefore, but also, for example, donations from RTT. But it can also be very simple things: in some companies, it will be work groups to promote awareness, in others, training in first aid or postures to lift the loved ones…
The important thing is that the company understands that it is important to put in place appropriate solutions to reconcile professional life and private life, so that the employee can do his job, assume his responsibilities, both in front of his employer and with his family, and stay employed. »