“A tsunami that overwhelms you”, confides Brigitte (1), confronted ten years ago with the cancer of her sister whom she accompanied to her medical appointments at the risk of her work. “I went to see my boss who was great. He told me to take all the time I needed, she remembers. I was able to arrange my work according to appointments, but the job was done. “A real luxury, she acknowledges today. Because, at the time, these questions were not too much in tune with the times. »
If the question is now beginning to be taken into account more widely by companies, “the subject is still a little taboo”, recognizes Wonjé Bytha, Head of Diversity and Inclusion at BNP Paribas Personal Finance. Many employees are still reluctant to broach the subject in the company.
“Some find it normal to get involved as they do with their loved ones and don’t even realize that they are helping. Others are reluctant to declare themselves to be helpers, thinking that the company, anxious to take their situation into account and not to overburden them, will give up entrusting them with such a project and that they will progress less. »
“The approach becomes more and more natural”
“We are a family business which is committed to meeting the concerns of its employees and we try to support them, but I admit that I was challenged when someone told me that he was going to resign, not supporting plus the sleepless nights spent with one’s spouse”, testifies Catherine Distel, social worker at Hager, a Franco-German company specializing in electrical installations.
After working with the mutual Klesia, Hager has therefore developed a whole system of help and support for helping employees. Around thirty knock on Catherine Distel’s door each year. “The approach becomes more and more natural”, emphasizes the social worker who, for team workers, can go so far as to suggest flexible working hours, or even a change of position.
Valuing the specific skills of caregivers
The issue does not only affect businesses. The gendarmerie thus carried out a survey of 1,500 gendarmes who are parents of disabled children. “Some have written that they were ‘professionally buried’, details Lieutenant-Colonel Grégoire Charle, head of the disability mission of the national gendarmerie. To manage the constraints, they gave up internal competitions and advancement. » A problem in a body that lives from the training of its executives called to replace their elders.
Since 2020, the military personnel department of the gendarmerie has integrated the disability mission and its reflection on caregivers into its human resources policy. “This can lead us to somewhat iconoclastic solutions”, explains Lieutenant-Colonel Charles who says he does “tailor-made” for accommodation or mobility in a body where, “in the barracks, family life unfolds under the gaze of leaders and comrades”.
The gendarmerie is also committed to promoting the specific skills of carers. “People who come to the aid of others, developing exceptional empathy skills, resistance to stress and an ability to organize themselves in the unexpected and to manage: these are skills that we are strongly looking for”, insists the officer, himself the father of a handicapped child.
“The hierarchy is responsible for the model it gives”
Because everyone within the company can be affected by assistance. Even the boss, as evidenced by Dominique du Paty, founding partner of RéseauH, a firm specializing in disability in business, who accompanied her mother’s last months.
“When I went to see her, the employees took my place and replaced me for the important things. I felt a real solidarity,” says the one who is also vice-president in charge of inclusion at the Confederation of small and medium-sized enterprises.
A reaction, for her, less linked to the fact that her firm works on disability, than to the management implemented. “I showed my vulnerability and there was mutual respect around that, she says. The hierarchy is responsible for the model it gives. When the company is welcoming and understanding, everyone benefits. And this also falls on the person being helped. »
“It is necessary to make carers feel guilty”
Frederique Decherf, director of social action at Agirc-Arrco
“In all the appointments that we offer around retirement, we listen to employees and their concerns. Help is part of it. In our prevention centres, we also offer a specific assessment to helping populations, but we still have trouble getting them to come to us.
There are many paradoxical injunctions around aid: women who find it normal to take care of their sick husband, parents to take care of their children, children to take care of their parents… However, to take care of someone else, you have to be healthy in your head and in your body: it is therefore necessary to make carers feel guilty. »