Look around your company. You may see a number of offices where people can close doors. Perhaps you have a sea of cubicles or open design office space. Or maybe your company is heavily decentralized with employees on the road. Whatever your structure - look around. You may see the office populated. But do you really know WHERE your employees and their minds are?
In all the competitive SWOT analyses that companies conduct, there is one core competitor that likely doesn’t often make the board - your employees’ families. The fact is, you lose the mindshare and productivity of your employees each and every day to this competitor. You’ve heard the statistic that 1 out of 6 employees are “active family caregivers.” Maybe you know that these employees lose up to 20 hours of their week dealing with these care situations. But what does this mean?
What the Heck is Caregiving?
“Caregiving” means a lot of things. It’s providing active care in your home for an ill loved one. It’s making sure a loved one has groceries. It’s trying to navigate the complex world of Social Security or Medicare for a parent (or yourself!). It’s shuttling to doctors, therapists, school, home care and other appointments. It’s having a child struggle in school and not knowing how to help. It’s spending hours of time going down the wrong path for answers and ending up with lost time, exhaustion and feelings of failure. It’s wondering why your child is brilliant, but has some basic functional skills or confusion why their teacher wants to talk about ADHD. It's managing the maddening world of screen-time. The list goes on and on.
Bottom line? Being a parent can feel like amatuer hour. And being an adult child trying to help your parent can feel like you're drowning too. Caregiving is simply having a family, facing challenges and not knowing what you don’t know.
Your Main Competitor
Back to your employees - where are they mentally and physically each day? They are having to deal with these struggles during work - making calls, going to appointments or lost down the rabbit hole of Internet research as a start. Both on an ongoing basis for some, and for shorter acute situations for others, the family demands upon your employees are causing a measurable impact on your business and your employees, such as:
- Increased absenteeism
- Decreased presenteeism
- Increased stress and anxiety
- Financial strain
- Loneliness and feelings of isolation
- Increased physical illness or issues for the employee
My Employees Don't Complain About This
Providing your employees simple, actionable and real tools to assist them during these challenging times brings a host of equally concrete benefits back to your company. Yet, right now, it’s the conversation around the problem that is important. We must define WHAT is happening. Is it REALLY prevalent? And WHY should companies care? Employment and stress mitigation statistics consistently report that Millennials currently make up a full 25% of caregivers and many of them will deal with this throughout their career. As our population continues to age, as more younger Millennials have their own families….the demands and stress around your employees’ families are not going away.
Perhaps you’re thinking, “But I don’t hear about this from employees! People aren’t coming to me with major issues around their children or parents.” To that, we simply ask….
When is the last time you confided in your manager regarding a serious concern about your child or another family member? When did you last feel comfortable revealing the reason you needed to take a PTO day for a real family challenge? Will you tell your boss that your child is struggling in school and you don't know why? When is the last time you spent an hour or two on the phone or on the internet during work hours related to something for your family?
Now multiply that across your office…..that's where your employees are.