Over one in five adults care for aging parents, disabled spouses or chronically ill children. Caregiving employees experience tension from balancing the priorities and needs of their employers, while managing their caregiving responsibilities, leading to increased absenteeism. Many employee caregivers feel spread thin and unable to do as good of a job as they desire in either setting.
“Employees who feel cared for and cared about by their employers feel increased gratitude and loyalty,” said Barry J. Jacobs, Psy.D and Principal with Health Management Associates and co-author of Compassion Counts: The Value of Supporting Employee Caregivers. “Those who feel like their employers don’t care about them regard their work as just another onerous job.”
Jacobs urges employers to get involved and recognize that caregiving employees often don’t ask for help or even share the overwhelming demands that they have from caregiving. Many fear that they will be penalized or that their employers would not understand or be supportive.
“Caregivers are spread thin, and often feel unable to do as good of a job as they desire with either setting,” said Patty Starr, President & CEO of Health Action Council. “Employers can create a workforce culture to support caregivers and create an environment that supports them.”
Health Action Council has identified seven actions employers can take to cultivate a workplace culture that supports and nurtures their caregiver employees.
Adapt Your Culture. Set a tone of warmth and support by simply expressing empathy for caregivers. Allow forums for caregivers to share stories with one another.
Get Input from Caregivers. Conduct an internal caregiver survey to become more aware and supportive of employee’s needs.
Implement Flexible Policies. Employers should align HR policies to support for employee caregivers, such as greater freedom to set their own work hours.
Train Middle Managers to be Caregiver Friendly. Managers need training and resources to help them understand what employee caregivers go through and need.
Create Internal Support Groups. Employers can create educational sessions to share information, ideas, and stories. This helps caregivers feel less alone.
Measure and Evaluate Results. This will help you determine if you are forming a stronger alliance, being more transparent and improving personal and emotional needs
Offer Employees Benefits and Resources. Offer ancillary support and educational services,
As America ages, employee caregivers face greater stress levels, rates of anxiety and depression and risk of chronic illnesses than the population at large. By investing in caregiver supports employers will see an increase in employee productivity and potentially a reduction in medical costs.
About Health Action Council
Health Action Council is a not-for-profit 501(c)(6) organization representing mid- and large-size employers that enhances human and economic health through thought leadership, innovative services, and collaboration. It provides value to its members by facilitating projects that improve the quality and moderate the cost of healthcare purchased by its members for their employees, dependents, and retirees. V
Health Action Council also collaborates with key stakeholders – health plans, physicians, hospitals, and the pharmaceutical industry – to improve the quality and efficiency of healthcare in the community. For more information, please visit www.healthactioncouncil.org.
About Barry J. Jacobs
Barry J. Jacobs is Barry J. Jacobs, Psy.D and Principal with Health Management Associates, Inc. He served as caregiver for his mother and stepfather, both of whom had dementia.
Jacobs has appeared as a caregiving expert on Dr. Phil and given more than 600 presentations for family caregivers, community groups, and medical and mental health professionals. His areas of expertise include behavioral health integration, complex care management, enhancing family caregiver engagement and supports, team-based care, and provider wellness.
A former magazine journalist, he helped put together the first edition of The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll.