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Interview: How can care and career be combined?

Three questions for Heidi Volkmann, human resources manager at Bornemann-Etiketten GmbH, Wuppertal

"Many find it difficult to talk about it" - the compatibility of care and career

The Bornemann-Etiketten family business in Wuppertal has long placed great emphasis on the issue of reconciling family and career. The care and support of relatives is a natural part of this. A conversation with HR manager Heidi Volkmann.

What characterizes the care of relatives in contrast to childcare?

A nursing case often occurs quite suddenly, for example as a result of a stroke or other serious illness. The or the affected employee must react acutely - as well as the company. No one can predict how long the situation will last. There is also a big psychological difference: a child means a new beginning, while an elderly mother in need of care means farewell and death. Many employees find it difficult to talk about this openly. Because these are private worries and emotions, the overload with the necessary bureaucracy and fear of the future.


How does your company support those employees who care for relatives in need of care?

Bornemann-Etiketten is a family business already in its third generation. For us, "family comes before work" - and that means that we support employees as best as possible to perform their family duties, be it in childcare, be it in the care of parents in need of help.

For employees in the administration, proven measures such as flexitime and home office come into question above all. But we also find individual solutions for employees in production. Here, it's a matter of being flexible, organizing a good substitute, and sticking together. The whole thing is a give and take. We get a lot of gratitude back.

In the sensitive area of care and work, it is also helpful to exchange ideas in person. Personal conversations in online lunch breaks provided the impetus for me to start a call for a kind of "support group" in our internal newsletter. We use our good contacts and always find good advice in our network. Currently, up to four employees meet to look after their elderly mothers or fathers and exchange information and tips or just talk. This often uses more than flyers and websites.

What advice do you have for other companies?

Over the years, my attitude has changed. If I used to ask mainly about the condition of the parents in need of care or assistance, today I ask first: "How are you?" My attention is primarily focused on the person who is providing care and who has to manage this stressful task in their normal daily lives. My advice is to look closely at that. It's important to talk so we can learn how best to take the pressure off the person. It is certainly helpful that we as a family business with 55 employees have a personal relationship with the employees - you know each other.

Where can we find help and advice?

For questions and help, the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs has set up a care hotline. It is available nationwide from Monday to Thursday between 9:00 and 18:00 and by e-mail: For more information, visit:

The interview was conducted in 2022.

More informationLinks for further reading

There are many models that enable a family-friendly workday. You can find an overview here on the family portal in the article "Family-friendly working time models".