7 Ways an Organization Can Support Employee Caregivers

Caregivers assist disabled, elderly, and/or children with regular daily activities and are most often female. As the number of women in the workforce continues to rise, as does the amount of working caregivers that struggle to find a balance between their duties. With tasks ranging from taking someone to a doctor’s office for an appointment, to personal hygiene care, to grocery shopping, a caregivers list of things to do can be overwhelming.

According to the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP (2015), family caregivers typically spend about 24 hours a week on average providing care for someone else. For a caregiver that is caring for a spouse or a child, the number is significantly higher. On top of a regular 40 hour a week job, caregiving duties can be quite the burden to carry.

From an employer standpoint, there are many ways to support caregivers in order to try to alleviate the stress and overall strain caregivers take on.
How to support caregivers in the workplace.
1. Offer Support to Caregivers

Oftentimes, caregivers won’t even consider themselves caregivers until someone else points out they are. Many people will help out their parents, spouses, or children without a second thought of the amount of work, effort, and time they are putting into it.

Managers should take the time to develop relationships with employees to understand what they are struggling with and the burdens they are carrying - especially if it's a duty like caregiving which can spill into the workplace as well.

By really listening to employees, managers can better understand and help to make the best of a difficult situation.
Supporting caregivers in the workplace.
2. Provide Resources

There are an endless amount of programs, resources, and tools employers can offer their employees when it comes to caregiving. By creating a platform that supports employees, organizations put themselves in a better position to retain experienced workers. Offering support groups, resource lists, mental health programs or discounts, or even in-house care for children can take an enormous weight off of a caregivers shoulders.

When moving into a caregiving role (or being thrown into one), women will feel overwhelmed and burnt out in all aspects of life. The more an employer can provide in terms of support, the more likely an employee is to stay.
Support employee caregivers by providing resources.
3. Train Managers & Supervisors Appropriately

Organizational culture starts with managers and upper management. When these key roles in a business are filled with people that are compassionate and committed to assisting caregivers in any way they can, employees are much more likely to feel supported and understood in the things they are going through.

Because caregiving duties can lead to isolation, substance abuse, mental health issues, and more, educating managers should be a number one priority in the health and safety of everyone in the organization.

By bringing in experts on caregiving to give management the training that is needed, managers and supervisors will be better prepared on what to say, how to provide support, and other ways to help when an employee comes to them about caregiving duties.
Offer flex work to support employee caregivers.
4. Create Flex Work Opportunities

With many companies offering flex work and hybrid work opportunities to employees, it’s a no-brainer that this option be utilized by caregivers. For those that are caring for children, caregivers might find the perfect split between going into the office and working from home depending on school drop off and pick up times. Alternatively, being able to schedule doctor’s appointments for elderly parents around a hybrid schedule can be much easier when emergencies come up.

As a business, allowing employees to pivot to a more flexible schedule is a great way to not only give caregivers the time they need to care for others, but also time they can depend on where they know they can be in-office.
What is FMLA leave and how does it work?
5. Understand & Explain the Laws on FMLA Leave

For organizations with 50+ employees, FMLA leave isn’t anything new. As long as an employee has worked at least 12 months at the company and worked 1,250 hours before the leave period, they are able to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. While taking unpaid leave isn’t always the best option for them, it’s important that they understand they have an opportunity to do so.

On the other hand, employers can take it a step further by offering their own PAID versions of FMLA leave as well. This could include allowing employees to use their personal, sick, or vacation days for caregiving duties, or creating an entirely new set of paid leave days specifically for caregiving.
Create a safe space at work for emergency phone calls of caregivers.
6. Make a Safe Space at Work

In a traditional, close-knit office space, it can feel very public to take phone calls or have conversations about an employee’s caregiving duties. Rather than force caregivers to air out their duties to everyone, create a private or safe space for them to take care of their business while at work. Since no one can ever know when an emergency will occur, giving employees this space can make them feel more at ease when needing to take care of a private family matter. Dedicating an old office or a seldom-used meeting room specifically for emotionally-charged phone calls or discussions is a great way to “build” such a space.
Communicate with employee caregivers to ensure they aren't overwhelmed.
7. Communication, Communication, Communication

Because caregiving can often necessitate a fluctuating schedule, creating open communication and dialogue between employees and managers can go a long way. Checking in on caregivers from time to time can help them to see that the organization cares about what they are going through and can go a long way in fighting the isolation caregivers can often feel. Working with caregiving employees to figure out what projects and tasks work with them will benefit both sides overall.

As more and more employees are turning into caregivers, it’s important as an organization to utilize the options above to truly support your workers. With the ever-evolving way that people are able to work, being open-minded and flexible can not only help your business recruit future employees, but also retain the great workers you already have.

Need help creating a cohesive flex work office space for your caregivers?

Connect with us here at inspace for a free demo today!