The holiday season is here and most of us are eagerly finalizing plans to spend time with our families and friends. As time with loved ones is a quintessential marker of the holidays, there are many Americans spending the entire calendar year making plans and allocating resources for family members.
It’s estimated that 43.5 million Americans provide some variation of physical, emotional, or financial support to loved ones. However, caregiving is only one attribute that these individuals carry as they also have prominent roles in our workforces and communities.
Although caregiving does not define these individuals, it does contribute to increased risk of poor health outcomes (e.g. increased stress, depression, anxiety, and chronic illnesses).
Moreover, a 2015 study by the National Alliance for Caregiving found that 60% of caregivers have had faced limitations at work because of their caregiving role.
How Employers Can Support Caregiving Employees
Here are some ways that employers can support employees who find themselves caring for a loved one:
1. Find out who your caregivers are. Managers can ask employees in one-on-one meetings about their caregiving obligations. This will allow employers to identify individuals who need support in areas such as childcare and eldercare. Managers can let employees know that their door is always open and that if they need support to just ask.
2. Educate your caregivers. Provide basic information regarding resources that your employees can utilize, including:
Telling them about internal support services offered by the company, such as Employee Assistance Program add-ons, daycare or geriatric care manager networks.
Connecting them with external services offered by the community for both childcare and eldercare.
Providing directories of home health aides.
3. Allow for flexibility. Whether caring for a child or an elder, employees can benefit from having flexible schedules to manage their responsibilities at home. Offering flex time can help reduce unplanned and unproductive absenteeism.
Numerous studies have shown that employers who adopt flexible workplace policies enhance employee productivity, lower costs and boost their recruitment and retention efforts.
Common offerings include:
Telecommuting or remote working options
Allowing 40-hour, 4-day work week
A part-time schedule
Helping employees utilize the Famly Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
4. Create a caregiver-friendly culture. Work can act as a respite from home responsibilities. It’s also a place to socialize and commiserate. As an employer, you can work towards creating a supportive and reenergizing atmosphere for caregivers by:
Organizing workplace group discussions where caregivers can share common experiences, coping methods and challenges of balancing the physical, financial and emotional demands of caregiving.
Organizing caregiver workshops where an expert comes in to provide employees with tips and information around caregiving.
Providing access to experts through an Employee Assistance Program.
Offering seminars and assistance filling out paperwork for FMLA, retirement planning, long-term care, living wills, estate planning, and other legal services.
Providing courses on coping with the stress of informal caregiving, paired with resources
Check out these additional resources:
For other resources on how to help caregiving employees stay healthy and productive, send us at [email protected] or call 216.328.2200.