British Gas, Finalist 2013, The Best for Innovation Award
Location: all UK
British Gas has demonstrated a well developed and comprehensive approach to carers which has widespread coverage across the organisation. Supported from the highest levels of the organisation, their core message is that supporting carers in the workforce isn’t just about being a good employer, but that it is something that is good for business: it reduces turnover, cuts recruitment and training costs, retains talent and experience, builds resilience and improves wellbeing. The link between policy and business benefit is a crucial one, because it provides a rationale and reason for managers to buy into it.
British Gas have a solid suite of policies which include practical arrangements aimed at carers, along with support for line managers and networking for employees. Their Carers Policy which, in addition to dependant and emergency leave, provides up to one month’s matched leave per year. For example, if an employee takes five days annual leave for caring responsibilities British Gas will match this with an additional five days. There is no service requirement to be eligible for this leave. Carers are also supported through an Employee Assistance Programme which includes carer-specific support.
The organisation has also fostered an active (and growing) carer’s network which currently has over 700 members. The network is integral to the way in which carers are supported and also how awareness of what it means to be a carer is communicated throughout British Gas. External events like Carers Rights Day and National Carers week are supported throughout the country through events, market stalls in staff restaurants, case studies on internal TV and intranet and competitions and quizzes. There is also a British Gas Carers Day which is specifically designed to reach out to the ‘hidden carers’ in the workforce. The Carers Network also has a direct influence on how carers are treated and managed: the Carers network provides training to line managers about the specific needs of carers and the challenges they face combining work and their caring responsibility.
British Gas have taken a proactive approach, through a number of initiatives, which will help the organisation to understand more about their employees who are carers and also make carers more visible at work. They have analysed their employee data to find out more about who their carers are, where they are based and where efforts need to be focused. Championed by an MD, who also leads the Employers for Carers leadership group, they have committed to allocating resources to provide more support for carers in terms of information provision, including online support and a carers intranet page, and ensuring that they regularly benchmark to ensure that they are the forefront of best practice.