<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=928221690589361&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">
read

How Employers Can Support Family Caregivers

By Del Salinas

In today’s workforce, the number of employees who are also family caregivers is rising. Many people are balancing work with caring for elderly parents, children with special needs, or sick spouses. Employers who recognize and support these employees can benefit from increased loyalty, reduced absenteeism, and improved morale. Learn how employers can support family caregivers effectively.

The Business Case for Supporting Caregivers

It might seem strange for a business to accommodate family caregivers. But supporting family caregivers is not just the right thing to do; it actually makes good business sense. And here’s why.

  • Increased Employee Retention: Employees who feel supported are more likely to stay with the company, reducing turnover costs.
  • Enhanced Productivity: Reducing stress and providing flexibility can lead to improved focus and productivity among employees.
  • Increased Job Satisfaction: Job satisfaction increases when employees feel that their employer respects their personal needs and responsibilities. Higher job satisfaction can lead to greater engagement, creativity, and overall performance.
  • Positive Workplace Culture: A supportive environment fosters loyalty. It also attracts top talent who value a company’s work-life balance.

Ultimately, by accommodating the needs of your employees, you reduce turnover, increase productivity, and build a strong reputation.

Understanding the Challenges of Family Caregivers

Next, it's important to understand what employees who care for family members are going through. Family caregivers face numerous challenges that can affect their work performance. These challenges can include the following:

  1. Time Constraints: Caregiving often requires significant time and can lead to missed workdays or the need for flexible scheduling.
  2. Emotional Stress: Balancing work with caregiving can lead to burnout, stress, and mental health issues.
  3. Financial Strain: Many caregivers incur out-of-pocket expenses, which can add financial pressure.
  4. Physical Health: The physical demands of caregiving can lead to health problems for the caregiver themselves.

By understanding the challenges of caregiving, employers can make appropriate changes to help support family caregivers.

Creating a Supportive Work Environment

Employers can implement several strategies to support family caregivers and create a more positive work environment. Consider the ideas below for your organization.

Flexible Work Arrangements

A flexible work environment can help caregivers spend the needed time with their loved ones without having to quit work. Here are some ideas to give employees more flexibility.

  • Remote Work: Allow employees to work from home when possible. Remote work can help caregivers manage their time more effectively and reduce the stress of commuting.
  • Flexible Hours: Offer flexible working hours to accommodate caregivers' schedules. This might include allowing employees to start and end their workday earlier or later than the traditional 9-5.
  • Part-Time or Job Sharing: Provide options for part-time work or job sharing. These options can help employees balance responsibilities without leaving the workforce entirely.

Paid Family Leave

A paid family leave policy can provide caregivers with time off to attend to their loved ones without the added stress of lost income. This can be crucial during critical times, such as post-surgery recovery periods or during intensive care phases.

Caregiver Support Programs

Caregiver support services can help team members cope with the challenges of caring for a loved one.

  • Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs): Offer EAPs that include counseling services, stress management programs, and resources for finding caregiving support.
  • Support Groups: Establish support groups within the organization where caregivers can share experiences and offer mutual support.

Financial Assistance & Resources

Employers may also want to consider offering financial support and guidance to their employees. This can help reduce the financial pressures and stress that family caregivers might face.

  • Subsidized Care Services: Partner with local caregiving services to offer discounts or subsidies to employees.
  • Financial Planning Assistance: Provide access to financial advisors who can help caregivers manage finances and plan long term.

Awareness & Understanding

Creating a culture of understanding and support for family caregivers within the workplace is crucial.

  • Training & Education: Educate managers and staff about the emotional and physical challenges faced by caregivers. Training programs can help them recognize the signs of caregiver stress and understand how to offer support.
  • Open Communication: Encourage open communication between caregivers and their supervisors. Create an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their caregiving responsibilities and seeking assistance.

Inclusive Policies

Review and update workplace policies to ensure they are inclusive of family caregivers. This might include revising attendance policies, performance review processes, and health benefits.

Technology

Technology can play a significant role in supporting caregivers. Employers can offer digital tools that help caregivers manage their responsibilities. These tools could include apps for scheduling, health monitoring, and connecting with healthcare professionals.

Receiving Support From an Employer: Eric Carter’s Story 

Eric Carter, Director of Support Services at Caring Senior Service, has experienced firsthand the challenges and rewards of being a family caregiver. Since joining Caring Senior Service in 2018, Eric has cared for both his mother, who battled ovarian cancer, and his father, who has Parkinson's disease, thanks to an understanding and supportive team. 

When his mother needed to participate in cancer treatment trials, Eric's parents left their home in Florida to live near Eric in San Antonio, TX. Eric took on significant caregiving responsibilities, including taking his mother to appointments, cleaning their apartment, and holding medical power of attorney. When the trials ended, his parents returned home to Florida. During this challenging time, Caring Senior Service provided unwavering support, allowing Eric to balance his professional and personal commitments. 

As his mother's condition worsened, Caring's CEO, Jeff Salter, and VP, Ian Klaes, encouraged Eric to put his family first. The company enabled Eric to work remotely from Florida for a month, giving him the invaluable opportunity to spend precious moments with his mother during her final days. This flexibility and support from Caring allowed Eric to be at his mother’s bedside during the nights when she did not want to be alone, a compassionate gesture he deeply appreciated. 

Eric's caregiving responsibilities didn't end with his mother's passing. He continues to support his father from afar, helping his sister manage their father's direct care and navigating the VA system to secure benefits. Reflecting on his experience, Eric notes, "I don't think another company would have given me that flexibility. But Caring has a deeply personal understanding of the value of caring for family members and being with them at the end of their lives.” 

Many of our franchise owners joined this industry because they have also been family caregivers. “This type of support comes naturally to us because we are in the business of caregiving. When one of our team members is called on to be a family caregiver, we understand it. We can shift things around and accommodate family situations.” But for employers who have not yet been called upon to care for a loved one, Eric’s advice is to “be flexible with your people.” 

Conclusion

Supporting family caregivers is a win-win for both employees and employers. Employers can help caregivers balance their responsibilities more effectively. This support not only benefits the caregivers but also enhances overall workplace morale, productivity, and retention, creating a more resilient and dedicated workforce. Investing in family caregivers is investing in the future success and well-being of employees and the organization as a whole.

Picture of a female with text overlay "Start a business that matters. Make a real difference in your community with a home care franchise. Get in Touch."

Tags: Business Development