According to the managers of VSEs/SMEs, one quarter of small companies employ people with caregiving responsibilities in their private lives

Monday, 11 december 2023

BPCE L’Observatoire carried out a survey among managers of companies employing between 6 and 499 people in order to obtain a clearer picture of the situation facing the employees of very small or small- to medium-sized enterprises (VSEs/SMEs) who also act as caregivers in their private lives

In all, 23% of managers said they knew that certain people working for their company also had caregiving responsibilities in their private lives, with 14% knowing it for a fact and 9% saying that they were less than entirely certain. It makes sense that when a company employs more people, it increases the probability of having employees who also provide caregiving services, although it should be pointed out that 18% of companies employing between only 6 and 19 people are also concerned by this phenomenon.
For VSE/SME employers, three sets of needs can be identified, each calling for different solutions:

  • need for flexibility. Employees with caregiving responsibilities in their private lives regularly need to take time off, sometimes urgently. VSEs and SMEs can offer flexible working hours, leave of absence, or provide telecommuting solutions on a routine basis: a way to make life easier for caregivers without getting involved in complex arrangements.
  • need to be heard and to receive support. On a more personal and psychological level, employees who provide caregiving services want to be heard and feel supported, and for their manages and colleagues to be sympathetic to the difficulties they are liable to encounter. One solution, mentioned by the managers questioned during the interviews, is to set up regular meetings to discuss the employee’s needs, particularly in terms of workload management. 
  • Financial needs. Faced with rising expenses generated by their situation, caregivers may find themselves obliged to turn to their employers, who can offer them advances on their salaries, or provide high-quality health and provident insurance solutions. 

Generally speaking, the VSE/SME managers questioned were aware of the need to adopt a case-by-case approach (52%): very few said they had set up a structured policy (1%), even in the largest SMEs. In 45% of cases, respondents acknowledged that the question of employees with caregiving responsibilities is simply not addressed.
For VSE-SMEs, providing caregivers with support is already a tangible reality but they feel helpless when it comes to going beyond providing case-by-case – and frequently informal – solutions for individual situations. The reasons for this include lack of time, insufficient knowledge of existing support mechanisms, but also the greater potential of these measures to disrupt activities in a small business compared to a larger company. One possible solution would be to move towards a form of pooling of support for employees with caregiving responsibilities organized by the public authorities, associations and/or private entities.

For further details, read the unabridged research findings on this question in the BPCE L’Observatoire on caregivers