According to AARP, one of every six U.S. employees serves as a caregiver for a relative or friend, devoting at least 20 hours per week providing care.
Why is Supporting Caregivers Important for Business Owners?
As a business owner, this is an important employee circumstance to think through. Supporting your caregiving employees is central to employee retention, and employee retention is a vital contribution to productivity.
Caregiving Responsibilities Are on the Increase
As life spans increase, so do chronic illnesses and disability. Soaring costs and increasingly difficult to navigate systems of healthcare and insurance are translating to an increase in caregiving from family and friends rather than professional clinical settings.
It takes something to balance one’s own career efforts with caregiving responsibilities.
Your employees may be responsible for caregiving activities ranging from administrative help like organizing doctor’s appointments or transportation, to hands-on care such as assisting with bathing, eating, dressing and more. Some caregivers take on skilled medical services like administering injections and caring for wounds.
The increase in working people providing caregiving is a universal reality, leaving no industry, profession or business immune.
Caregiving and Workplace Productivity
Caregivers may require flexible work hours, or to engage in phone calls to coordinate care and need to run errands during typical business hours. They may also experience significant anxiety and stress related to the circumstances which can impact them both personally and professionally, especially if they’re concerned about losing their jobs because of these additional demands on their time.
All these factors can put a lot of pressure on employees. Some may drop out of the workforce entirely, while others may dial back their efforts and ambition. Some employees may succumb to chronic illness, depression, loneliness and social isolation – even substance abuse making matters worse.
Caregiving Employees Need Real Support from Management
Employees need to know that management supports them during this challenging time and As a business owner consider implementing policies which ensure that caregiving employees feel fully supported, and that caregiving employees will not be penalized with negative attitudes, such as assumptions that they are less committed to their jobs and responsibilities.
7 Key Ways To Provide Meaningful Support for Employee Caregivers
- Establish an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) with caregiver resources.
- Actively embrace the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), help employees understand its provisions, and assist them in completing forms.
- Offer paid family leave and flexible paid sick days or time off which they can use to care for their relative.
- Maintain an up-to-date caregiver resource list, including directories of home care agencies, community-based services such as adult day care, financial planning and elder law assistance.
- Establish a health advocacy/navigator program for employees and their parents/dependents. These outside vendors assist with selecting doctors, scheduling appointments, getting second opinions, resolving benefits issues, and explaining diagnoses.
- Establish in-house stress-reduction programs to help caregivers who are dealing with burnout or anxiety. This could include onsite yoga, meditation, or massage, or discounts for such modalities.
- If our company is large enough consider an In-house support group for caregivers, led by experts or fellow employee-caregivers, to help employees share resources and mutual support.
As business leaders there is a business case for providing these resources and considerations to our team proactively. And the reality of it is, I’m personally living this right now as are many of my clients and their team members. Creating an environment where people know that they can weather the inevitable crises that life brings without worrying about how to pay the bills or losing their jobs is good business and humane.
If you want to find out what other strategies you can put into place to help retain key employees, please give us a call at (305) 285-9264. We’re here to help!