The US is home to over 53 million family caregivers—many working full or part time jobs. Unfortunately, the demands of family caregiving often take a significant toll on both individuals and the organizations that employee them.
Data from the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP indicates that 34% of employees who are family caregivers eventually leave their jobs because work does not provide the flexible hours they need to care for their dependents. On top of that, 78% of family caregivers have out of pocket expenses totaling 20% of their income.
This essential responsibility creates a lot of added stress. Roughly 20% of family caregivers suffer from depression, twice the rate of the general population, and nearly 1/3 of caregivers report moderate to severe anxiety symptoms.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to keep our private lives totally separate from our work lives. That stress can carry over and have a negative impact on productivity through both absenteeism and presenteeism. In fact, 70% of working caregivers say they experience difficulties at work due to their many responsibilities.
Clearly, comprehensive caregiver support is essential for every organization. Below, you’ll find six tips from recent reports that can help any organization bolster their caregiver support in 2023.
We’ll break them down into tips for organizational leaders to build the framework for success, and tips for front line managers who are often the first point of contact for struggling employees.
For a caregiver support plan to be effective, both groups need to be aligned with one comprehensive action plan.
Tips for organizational leaders
Leaders can work with managers to make sure they understand the company’s policies and pool of resources and are prepared to encourage employees to use them. Managers can also be trained to have difficult conversations with employees about caregiving and mental health in general.
While HR oversees these types of initiatives, front line managers are often the first point of contact for employees seeking support. Managers can be shown how to make themselves available to employees seeking support and how to create an environment that facilitates open discussion.
It’s important to recognize that not all caregivers view themselves as caregivers. They may simply see themselves as parents with children or adults with aging relatives. As a result, they may not come forward seeking help. Organizational leaders can reframe this conversation to help employees get the support they need.
“We know in general that people do not think of themselves as family caregivers,” says Susan Reinhard, Senior VP and Director of AARP Public Policy Institute. “They think of themselves as daughters, sons, husbands and wives. But it’s important to use the term “family caregiver” and help people understand they are caregivers, as once people identify themselves this way they can more easily get help.”
While organizations should create a more open, inclusive, and supportive workplace for caregivers, it’s important to remember that not everyone will feel comfortable sharing their struggles at work.
Some may wish to protect their privacy and others may be concerned that divulging this type of personal information will have a negative impact on how they are perceived by coworkers and managers.
Organizational leaders can ensure employees feel comfortable taking advantage of flexible work arrangements and other benefits without the fear that their upward mobility will be impacted or that they will be seen as less productive than other employees.
Find more tips for organizational leaders here.
Tips for workplace managers
Platforms like Torchlight and your EAP can relieve caregiver stress and improve caregiver mental health. The problem is that many employees aren’t even aware when these resources are available to them.
According to recent research, almost 40% of caregivers say they could use more information or advice to help with their unmet needs. Managers can direct employees to these types of resources when they are relevant.
Managers can provide anonymous opportunities for staff to provide feedback on how to meet caregiving needs. Managers can also make it clear to their team that they are there to support anyone struggling with caregiving responsibilities.
Creating an open and supportive work culture helps address the often-hidden challenges of caregiving. As demonstrated above, many caregivers don’t even classify themselves as caregivers and aren’t aware that they need support. Managers who start the conversation help create a safe space for everyone to get the help they need to thrive at home and at work.
Workshops and webinars can open the door to caregiving support and kickstart wellness journeys for employee caregivers who need support but can never seem to find the time to fit exploring a platform like Torchlight into their schedule. Live guest speakers make these events even more engaging.
Find more tips for managers here.
Want to learn more?
Torchlight, a product of LifeSpeak Inc., is the only comprehensive caregiver support solution for organizations, health plans, and other organizations that speeds the connections to top expertise both digitally and through one-on-one advising and concierge services.
The digital platform makes it easy to support employee caregivers, improve corporate culture and boost productivity.
Get in touch today to learn more or schedule a demo.