Workforce Magazine discusses the quality of life care and how, as family dynamics evolve and change for employees, so do the different demands of caregiving at home. The HR executive magazine emphasizes the need for companies to help employees be proactive versus reactive with their family care demands. Their reporter spoke with Torchlight, PepsiCo, Northeast Business Group on Health, and the large law firm Balch & Bingham regarding their specific approaches to addressing employees' traditional and modern caregiving challenges.
Adam Goldberg, M.Ed, founder & CEO of Torchlight, explained that employers should consider a more inclusive definition of “caregiver.” While caregiving has traditionally been defined as “care for an aging loved one or child with a diagnosis or disability,” the “modern caregiver” may or may not fit in that limited box — but they may have similar problems regardless.
In its first annual report titled “Modern Caregiving Challenges Facing U.S. Employees,” Torchlight analyzed its user data to see the top caregiving challenges people face whether caring for a child or an elder. Some of these relate to a specific disability, but others don’t. The data results can be found in the report in easy to read graphs and charts.
The fine line between a caregiver and someone who simply has family responsibilities outside of work is difficult to define, Goldberg, explained. Yet, he noted that it is necessary to be proactive rather than reactive with caregiving support. “So many of the things associated with caregiving can be mitigated or avoided by taking steps upfront, and we feel that’s a really important part of caregiving.”
For example, an employee’s child might be experiencing “homework hell” at school. An employee should know how to look out for red flags that might signal a problem like a learning disability, executive dysfunction or emotional issues like budding anxiety — all things that can be chronic, costly disorders. These red flags might not turn out to be a traditional caregiver challenge like a diagnosed disability, but if they do, employees can be proactive.
Many caregivers don’t report their caregiving challenges to their manager or HR until there’s a crisis, Goldberg said. That means that when HR hears about it and they want to help, they’re often dealing with a crisis situation rather than something that could have been handled more effectively early on. HR may end up trying to solve the issue with a "one-off" solution without considering the underlying issues.
“Leading employers are speaking out and saying the traditional benefits approach [to caregiving] has not worked, so we need to take a fresh look at this,” Goldberg said.