Working carer Sheila Pring wrote an article entitled 'A Supportive Employer', about how her manager supported her when her partner was very ill. This meant she was able to keep her job at a time when she most needed it.

Then her manager Jan Dilli responds with her perspective on supervising employees with caring responsibilities. Jan writes about supporting carers, allowing staff autonomy and valuing a particular employee who was seen as an asset.

Sheila’s article spoke about how this organisation supported her when Peter was ill and in hospital and she was required to dip in and out of her carer responsibilities during the working day. 

Sheila had a lot on her plate. She had just re-entered the workforce after a six- year absence, in a challenging though potentially rewarding position, and Peter was very ill. Sheila needed sufficient flexibility to structure her workload, so that she could fulfil the responsibilities of her roles as carer and employee in the short-term, without feeling pressured into making decisions or taking action regarding the long term.

The organisational factors that foster a flexible response include:

  • The organisation (macro) has a stated commitment to supporting carers;
  • The service (micro) allows employees a fair deal of autonomy in structuring their workloads. Management and employees endeavour to work together in a partnership to ensure that efficient and effective services are provided to the clients;
  • Sheila was seen as an asset to the organisation. While caring for Peter she had developed so much understanding and many skills in interacting with people, and negotiating within complex situations. These are skills that are sought after by employees and management wanted to provide Sheila with every opportunity to fulfil her caring responsibilities toward Peter and continue to develop in her work role;

  • A belief that most people strive to do their best in whatever role in life they are performing. If their work environment thwarts this, they will be distracted and this is likely to have an impact on their confidence and their work performance;
  • A belief that human behaviour is influenced by the principle of reciprocity: ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’ which will influence attitudes to work.

Jan Dilli, Manager, Richmond Community Options, Northern NSW