According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, approximately 43.5 million caregivers have provided unpaid care to an adult or child. On average, they spend about 13 days each month doing tasks like shopping, food preparation, housekeeping, laundry, and transportation.
Organizations need to be aware that these millions of caregivers include their employees. And that these activities have an impact on employee well-being. Even when you love the person who you’re providing care for, it’s still hard both emotionally and financially.
Keep in mind that caregiving isn’t exclusive to family members. Many employees have a person in their lives who was like a second parent that’s not a blood relative. They might have an aunt, uncle, or grandparent who played a significant role in their lives. Those individuals are like family and, in some cases, might be more important than a person who fits our company definition of “close relative”. It’s important for organizations to think about what the definition of family is going to be and consider if it’s time to expand that definition to meet today’s modern family.
One of the biggest steps that organizations can take toward helping caregiving employees is providing information. Recently, I was listening in on a webinar hosted by AARP about the subject of caregiving and 75% of listeners did not know if caregiving benefits were available to them. And even if your organization doesn’t offer something specifically labeled “caregiving benefit”, is it possible that there are benefits that caregivers can take advantage of like paid time off (PTO) or employee assistance programs (EAP).
That’s why I wanted to put this list together. If you have employees who might be looking for resources, here are some places that they can get caregiver information.
AARP Caregiving webpage includes medical, legal, and financial information along with caregiving stories that could provide some additional support. AARP also has a caregiving app (FREE on iTunes) and a caregiving support line.
AARP Prepare to Care: A Caregiving Planning Guide for Families has information on how to assess the needs of a loved one, have vital conversations about care, and locate helpful resources. These are available in a variety of languages and specific focuses like LGBTQ and veterans.
Organizations can refer to the Employer Caregiving Toolkit from the Northeast Business Group on Health to get some ideas of things they can do beyond providing employees a list of resources. Or think about starting an employee affinity group for caregivers.
AARP and ReACT worked together to create a white paper for employers titled “Determining the Return on Investment: Supportive Policies for Employee Caregivers”. I learned about this resource a couple of years ago at a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) event.
It’s no surprise that people are aging. That’s a fact of life. Organizations need to demonstrate that they are aware of the challenges associated with caregiving. Not only will it make employee’s lives better, but it will help their work performance which benefits the organization.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby at the 34th Street Graffiti Wall in Gainesville, FL