Employer’s Guide to Supporting Employees with Caregiving Responsibilities

Caregivers bear a heavy burden and need a little support from their employers from time to time. In this guide, we will talk about how employers can make life easier for caregiver employees.

Around 17% (one in six) of Americans work as caregivers. On average, they spend 24 hours a week on caregiving responsibility. They primarily assist with care for their disabled family members, friends, elderly, or children.

Many in the business community feel that they lose productivity due to the absenteeism of full-time employees who are caregivers.

Employees sometimes find it challenging to manage work with caregiving responsibilities. They may need to look after elderly parents and children, at the same time. Looking at the current situation of covid 19, many children’s facilities have closed down, and schools are operating online. 

Employer'S Guide To Supporting Employees With Caregiving Responsibilities

So children have to be home when they might be attending schools in person.  Around 40% of females have felt a negative impact on their careers due to childcare issues.

Not only this, caring for any elderly relative is also a major problem. The elderly are more prone to illnesses like flu, pneumonia, and COVID-19. As the caregiving responsibilities are projected to grow in the coming years, employers need to know how to support their working caregivers.

In this guide, let us look at how employers can support employees with caregiving responsibilities so that caregivers can be more productive while also getting the time and space they need to fulfill their caregiving work. We will try to discuss:

  • Main responsibilities of a caregiver
  • Challenges for employers and employees in care-giving responsibility.
  • How does creating a caregiver friendly workplace help employers?
  • Building workplace strategies, policies, and programs to support caregiving responsibilities.

Caregiving Responsibilities

Picking up kids from school if they are sick and taking care of the elderly or disabled are all part of life. People do find different ways to manage work and family life well.

But sometimes, it gets challenging to manage both. In most organizations, employers support their employees with caregiving responsibility and provide medical services as well.

In the coming years, the number of employee caregivers will increase. In the US, people live longer, and the life expectancy is also growing, so will the illness and disability among people as they age.

They require more care and may find it challenging to pay for their care by looking at the traditional healthcare system.

Main Responsibilities Of A Caregiver

The duty of a caregiver varies each day. Taking care of the elderly, managing medical appointments, or even helping the elderly with cleaning and cooking are some of the responsibilities of a caregiver.

An older adult may require more care due to illness, mobility, or any chronic conditions that make it difficult to do everyday work. Let us look at the few duties and responsibilities of a caregiver.

Assessing Medical Needs

Keeping a regular check on the health of the elderly is one of the essential duties of a caregiver. They need to manage the medical appointment from time to time and give them medicines. It is better to keep track of their health with their doctor or any health professional regularly.

Older adults take some medicines for any chronic illness. It is essential to keep track of their medication list and make them take the medicines on time. You can set a reminder to monitor their medication.

Preparing A Proper Care Plan

It is good to have a proper care plan and look at the needs of your loved one when you start with your caregiving duty. You can plan how many hours a day the elderly need your help and first ensure their health and safety.

Assist Elderly With Basic Needs

As people age, they may have mobility issues and memory loss. So it is a responsibility of a caregiver to help the elderly with their basic needs, which may include grooming, eating, or bathing. They also need to pay attention to any other signs that the elderly may show.

Prepare Meals

Some elders find it difficult to prepare meals for themselves. They may lack the energy or motivation to do so. Also, if they have some memory or mobility issues, it is unsafe for them to cook. A caregiver can help them prepare meals and ensure that the elderly or their loved ones are getting proper nutrition.

Help With Transportation

For the elderly, using public transport or driving may not be a safe option. It is better to look for alternative transportation options to go to the doctor or avail of any other services.

Challenges For Employers And Employees To Caregiving Responsibility

Employees need to balance work life and caregiving responsibility. They may need to take frequent leaves to take care of their loved ones or the elderly. They may need to take out some time from their work and take medical appointments, consult a doctor or deal with any emergency during work hours. 

Many times, employees find it uncomfortable to discuss caregiving responsibilities with their employers or managers. This is because they fear the organizations will feel they are not fully committed to their work and are not putting up their best in their work.

Thus the absence of employees often from the workplace will impact the organization, and productivity may reduce due to the stress and anxiety of the employees. 

They have a feeling that they won’t get a promotion or any new opportunity. This makes them feel depressed and more anxious, leading to their health issues. This may lead to an illness that includes diabetes, blood pressure, or obesity. Thus, increasing the responsibility of a caregiver as well as healthcare costs.

All these factors and issues relating to caregiving responsibility lead to a less productive workforce as the employees are not putting their maximum potential. And if the employees are not getting support from their employers, they often drop out and leave the organization. This makes the employers hire other people leading to more training costs.

So How Can Employers Support These Employees?

Employers need to understand the caregiving issues and challenges. They need to create and implement policies and strategies that will benefit both the organization and employees. 

Employers can have personal meetings with their employees and know about the caregiving obligations. This will help them know about employees who need support in caregiving needs. They need to make their employees know that organizations support them with caregiving needs.

They need to create a caregiving-friendly work environment and make people aware of the new policies and benefits. Let us look at some examples and benefits that will help employees with caregiving duties and responsibilities along.

Employer'S Guide To Supporting Employees With Caregiving Responsibilities

Create Awareness

Companies will have different approaches to caregiving responsibilities. They support their employees in any kind of caregiving responsibility in terms of resources, size, type of work environment, and how the company operates. It is the duty of every employer to commit to such responsibilities and support the employees with any caregiving needs.

First, they need to understand the challenges and problems employees face with caregiving needs for their family members or relatives and how they manage such challenges.

Many times, employees won’t seek out help or any kind of caregiving support from the employers even if they have problems. This is because they don’t think of themselves as caregivers. They are just helping out their family members.

Educating The Caregivers

Employers can provide employees with certain information that may help them with caregiving. They can tell them about the company’s support services, such as daycare facilities or employee assistance programs. They can even connect the employers with any external services that other communities offer for elders and children.

Caregiver-Friendly Work Culture

To support employees with caregiving, it is essential to create a caregiver-friendly work culture in the office. 

  • Employers can organize group discussions where employees can share their caregiving issues and experiences and how they are coping up with work and caregiving duties.
  • Organizing counseling and caregiver workshops will also help. An expert can help employees and advise the employees with some tips and information about caregiving.
Employer'S Guide To Supporting Employees With Caregiving Responsibilities

How Does Creating A Caregiver Friendly Workplace Help Employers?

Supporting employees with caregiving responsibilities help employers:

  • Maximize productivity.
  • Attract and retain their employees.
  • Improve their employee’s emotional and physical health.
  • Reduce healthcare costs.

Offer Benefits And Services To Employee Well-being

Many organizations offer sick leaves or vacation leaves to employees that they can use to take care of their families. Some may provide personal leave by applying through the Family Medical Leave Act. 

Thus, providing employees with paid leaves when they need to look for an elderly or disabled family member is one of the most important things to consider when creating a caregiving-friendly work environment.

Nowadays, employers are offering many benefits and caregiving services to employees, and their interest in this is increasing. In most workplaces, maternity leaves, parental leave policies have increased rapidly, and now employers are looking to support and look towards aging parents or disabled family members.

Some employers are even looking out to support the employees at different stages of life, including parenting and supporting emotional and financial needs.

Building workplace strategies, policies, and programs to support caregiving responsibilities.

  • Personal Leave. Employers can allow employees to take personal leave as per the FMLA Act. They can consider allowing employees to take leave for caregiving and put certain limits to it.
  • Financial Counselling. Employers can provide financial counseling and support employees with any medical requirements for their aging parents or family members. Counseling helps employees with such benefits that they might not even have realized they needed it.
  • Flexible Work Environment. Having flexible working hours will allow employees to manage their time and caregiving responsibilities along with their work. So employers can be lenient if employees come late.

Offering flexible working hours will reduce unplanned absenteeism in the workplace. This will further increase employee productivity, lower costs and retain them.

  • Providing Health Insurance. Employers must ensure to provide health insurance to employees that include overall healthcare coverage. Employers must communicate with the offers relating to health insurance, so they want new policies regarding their self-care as well.
  • Employee Assistance Program. It is a good idea to have employee assistance programs to help employees cope up with their problems and issues they may be facing. Ensure and make employees aware of such programs and communicate with them on how they can use them.
  • Childcare Facility. Organizations can provide childcare facilities. This will further help them boost incentives and attract talents.
Employer'S Guide To Supporting Employees With Caregiving Responsibilities

Other Helpful Tips That Will Help Employers And Managers

Telehealth Benefits. 

Employers can make certain policies and offer some telehealth benefits. They can allow the family members of employees to use such benefits. This will help reduce the transportation problem and allow employees to give their best at work. Having telehealth conferences is a great way to support employees with caregiving responsibilities.

Make Employees Connect With Any Specialist Guidance. 

Employers can create and develop specific caregiving plans for their employees for any specific circumstances. Most of the companies have certain elder laws and financial planning specialists to help out.

Acknowledge Diversity. 

As employees at the workplace come from different places and cultures, it is possible that the employees’ family members do not speak English. So organizations should provide information in various languages.

Creating Personal Space In the Office. 

Organizations should create private space for employees to deal with stressful situations or have a phone call. Open-plan workplaces do not have privacy, and it may lead to employee caregivers’ stress levels.

So with the increasing population and unsettled healthcare facilities, employees are going to face caregiving responsibilities. Creating awareness and providing benefits and services to employees will help organizations stay productive apart from creating a caregiver-friendly workplace.

Employer'S Guide To Supporting Employees With Caregiving Responsibilities

Caregiving Responsibility And Workplace

Caregiving responsibility and the workplace will be an issue for both employers and employees in the coming years. It will be one of the most important factors to take into consideration. Employees need to support their employees with caregiving responsibilities and help maximize their potential when at work. 

They need to make employees aware of the benefits the organizations offer relating to caregiving needs. Thus, recognizing and supporting employees with caregiving needs will help improve productivity and have a healthy workforce.

I hope this guide will help employers develop some caregiving benefits and help employees maximize their potential at work.