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Making Caring Visible

Category: Carers, Aviva, Flexible Working, Flexible, Carers’ Network, Caring, Carer, Insurance, Parents and Carers Together, flexiblity, carers forum, flexibility, carer for children

Flexible working

Last week was Carers Week, which annually shines a light on the estimated 6.5 million unpaid carers in the UK. This year’s theme ‘Making Caring Visible in 2020’ is particularly poignant, given the critical work carers are doing during the COVID-19 crisis while coping with new challenges and uncertainty.

Many of our Aviva colleagues have caring responsibilities, which is why we place so much importance on our carers policy. We support colleagues in a number of ways, including 35 hours paid leave per year to help manage caring responsibilities (last year, 662 Aviva colleagues in the UK each used an average of 12 hours) and flexible working options.

But it isn’t just practical support that carers need. Emotional wellbeing is equally important, and having access to advice, caring experts or just someone to talk to can be a huge help. Our Aviva Carers Community is run by colleagues, who are themselves carers, with support from the wider business. As a carer and sponsor of this community, it’s my role to help champion this group throughout Aviva, making sure carers are heard and their needs met.

Whilst we highlighted carers last week, embracing diversity and fostering an inclusive environment that supports every one of our colleagues is at the heart of Aviva’s culture. As we’ve been reminded by the shocking recent events, it is crucial that people feel able to speak up; are listened to; supported; and appreciated for who they are and what they bring. I am learning and understanding a little more every day and know this is my responsibility. I also believe that our six Aviva communities are like our family – we can find enough time and love for each of them and sometimes certain communities will need more support and attention, as the black community does right now. And of course all our communities intersect and overlap too.

Given so many of us are working remotely at the moment, checking in on each other is even more essential for our wellbeing. As a mum juggling a fantastic new job with three teenagers at home (also fantastic most of the time), I know how much I value being able to talk openly about the good days and the not so good… however much I may love both parenting and my job! 

We recently ran a survey to find out how our carers community were managing during the lock-down. 46% told us they were doing more than 20 hours a week of caring. COVID-19 has also significantly impacted how they are managing: 80% said they are juggling even more than usual, balancing home schooling with an increased domestic load (there is a lot of cooking and eating in our house for sure with three hungry teens at home) and the challenge of caring responsibilities from a distance. There is certainly no ‘one size fits all’ here; every person who responded was in a unique situation, from who they cared for, the care they gave and the time they committed.

So the need for flexibility and support from employers has never been greater and it was heart-warming that 91% of those surveyed said their manager at Aviva had been there for them - demonstrating interest, kindness, understanding and a willingness to be flexible.

I know that when I was first a parent, I tried to pretend there were no challenges and dreaded having to change arrangements or ask for forgiveness because of a parents evening or sick child. I really hope times have changed and that there is no longer any stigma about asking for help or flexibility for caring or any other challenges our people face. Hopefully our equal parental leave and the fact that we encourage both parents to take leave is helping too.  I also think that being a parent has made me a better leader.

...And that’s why this week at Aviva we’re going to Make Caring Visible; sharing stories from our people, reminding colleagues about the support we offer and running seminars with Carers UK. We want to help everyone understand what it means to be a carer and shine a proud yellow light on our very own army of carers here at Aviva.

Danielle Harmer

Danielle Harmer

CPO at Aviva


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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email [email protected] for more information.

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