Caregivers in the Workplace
Caregivers aren’t just at home looking after the person that needs their help. They’re also in the workplace. They may be your colleague, boss or supervisor or even a client that you serve. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, more than 1 in 6 Americans are working either full or part-time hours while providing care for a parent or other elderly family member or friend. This is an issue that affects women especially, as more than half of all caregivers are female.
How Do Caregiving Responsibilities Affect Caregivers at Work?
Caregiving responsibilities can have multiple impacts on a person who is trying to balance the dual roles of caregiving and working. Very often, caregivers reduce their hours, take unpaid leave or use vacation days in order to fulfill their obligations as a caregiver. It’s not always possible to do everything required of you during evenings and weekends. Transportation to appointments and errands is one of the top demands on family members, and most medical appointments are between the hours of 9 to 5. As well, if the person you care for is sick, you need to be by their side regardless of the day of the week.
What is the Impact on Employers?
Employers aren’t immune from the effects of caregiving in the workplace. The losses in terms of absenteeism, lowered productivity and higher turn-over rates can be substantial.
How Can Employers Assist Caregivers?
There are many paths an employer can take to assist people at work who find themselves having to care for older relatives. Here are some examples:
- Provide an employee assistance program where employees can go for emotional support and resources. Many caregivers report feeling very lonely and isolated. Having a toll-free number to call at any time of day or night can be a lifeline during distressing times.
- Host education and training sessions on conditions like Alzheimer’s disease so people can become informed and more knowledgeable.
- Offer pamphlets, books and other information sources on-site that people can bring home to read.
- Connect individuals with resources in the community that provide elder care services. Navigating the system can be complex and time consuming so knowing what’s available before you need it is invaluable.
- Consider hosting an on-site caregiver support group or developing a network where employees can provide practical and emotional support to one another.
- Establish policies that prevent discrimination against employees with caregiving responsibilities.
- Recruit people who have been out of the workplace for a while because they’ve been caring for a loved one. It can be challenging to find employment when your caregiving chapter is finished so think about the characteristics that these people have cultivated – compassion, empathy, patience, resilience, resourcefulness – and how that will benefit you and your company.
- Establish flexible work hours and allow people to work from home, if feasible, to reduce hours spent commuting that they could use more efficiently, to do either their job or caregiving tasks.
If you're looking after an elderly loved one and you feel like you're burning the candle at both ends, Takacs McGinnis may be able to help. Just give us a call!