If you have employees who are caring for ill, elderly, or disabled family members, you know the toll it can take on them. Those balancing work and caregiving have to deal with distraction, worry, and overloaded schedules on a daily basis.
So how can you help your staff manage these challenges? How can you retain them as workers, while also supporting the rest of your team?
In this blog, we’ll discuss the unique demands that come with being a working caregiver, and what you can do to help.
What challenges do working caregivers face?
The need to provide caregiving can be unexpected, or creep up on people.
Did you know: 1 in 4 people in Canada are caregivers? Today, more than 6 million Canadians are juggling their work and caregiving responsibilities.
Juggling these two roles can involve a lot of time, energy, and financial resources. Carers spend 12.6 million in one year on expenses related to their caregiving role.
Caregiving can also have major long-term consequences both employees and employers.
From an employee perspective, these include:
working fewer hours
rejecting new job opportunities or promotions, and
making less money.
For employers, that reduction in work hours can mean a decrease in productivity and revenue generation.
Luckily, you have a great opportunity to help employees adapt to the realities of caregiving. By developing proactive strategies to support the working caregivers in your office, you can create a better situation for everyone.
How can employers benefit from supporting employees who are caregivers?
An employee with caregiving responsibilities may:
need to be absent from work more often
request flexible work arrangements
be more distracted at work
feel pressured to leave the workforce due to competing demands on their time.
Paying attention to the needs of employees with caregiving responsibilities will help to:
Keep productivity high
Increase employee commitment and loyalty
Improve morale and relationships between staff
Reduce turnover rates
Decrease employee stress
Reduce unplanned employee absences from work
How can employers support employees with caregiving responsibilities?
Supporting working caregivers doesn’t need to be difficult or costly. In many cases, small changes can have a large impact.
Here are five simple ideas you can put into action now:
HSAs work really well because they give employees the flexibility to use the money on whatever would benefit them the most. This can be anything from massages to counselling. Also, unlike traditional benefit plans, HSAs have fewer restrictions. This is because reimbursement generally includes all expenses recognized by Revenue Canada, up to the plan limits.
Meanwhile, EAPs can be an excellent way to help staff who are experiencing stress, anxiety, depression, or any other mental health challenges associated with caregiving.
Through an EAP, employees can receive one-on-one counselling on specific problems they’re struggling with, as well as support on issues like:
researching assisted living
receiving Alzheimers support
arranging meal delivery
dealing with grief
2. Offer flexible work options
By allowing staff to adapt their schedule to best suit their lifestyle, you make it easier for them to stay on top of their duties at home and at work.
Staff who are temporarily unable to work because they’re caring for a terminally ill family member can receive up to $547 a week in Employment Insurance (EI) for a maximum of 26 weeks.
You can also point employees to the wealth of community programs and services available to help them. These will help them make more educated decisions throughout the caregiving experience. There are also support groups to help employees feel less isolated and alone in their caregiving role.
Make sure staff are aware of these initiatives and offer additional assistance wherever you can.
To retain any employees who are working caregivers, it’s so important to give them the support they need.
Consider offering Health Care Spending Accounts and Employee Assistance Programs so employees can better take care of themselves, and their dependents. If you can, give working caregivers flexible work options to help them manage their responsibilities better.
Also, do what you can to promote employee wellness internally, which is proven to be a great stress reliever. And revisit your workplace policies to ensure they’re supportive to employees who may need to leave work temporarily.
Finally, let employees know about external benefits and resources they can lean on.
The extra support you give can go a long way for an employee and their family. From a business perspective, you’ll be able to reduce turnover, and the rest of your team will also benefit.
Let us know your thoughts. What is your experience working with employees who are caregivers? What do you do to help support them? Let us know in the comments below.
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