How to Manage Employees Who are Also Family Caregivers
By The American Red Cross
growing number of Americans providing care for a loved one at home,
businesses need to address this growing trend in a way that’s
equitable for employees and employers alike.
more than 50 million Americans are “family caregivers”– the primary
caregiver for a sick, disabled or elderly family member. Since
nearly half of all family caregivers also hold full-time jobs,
employers need to be aware of the stress and emotional aspects that
come with a caregiving situation.
Compounding the challenge is the fact that as the U.S. population
ages, and as the average life span continues to rise, more employees
will take on family caregiving roles. For employers, this means more
workers who are dividing their attention and time between work
demands and caregiving demands.
Fortunately, there are ways to create an effective work environment
that enables the employee to be productive and continue to
contribute to the company’s goals despite caregiving
responsibilities. The following suggestions will help.
Get to Know Your Staff: As an employer or manager, it’s helpful
to be aware of your employees’ individual situations and how they
may affect job performance. You can do this by spending time with
them in an informal setting, such as a break room over coffee, a
quarterly lunch out or simply chatting during a slow time. Many
employees are happy to share information about their families,
hobbies and interests outside of the workplace. The more you know
about your employees, the better you’ll be at managing them through
any challenge – just be cautious to not overstep boundaries. Check
with your human resources professional to make sure you are
following all company rules and national/state employment laws
before you start discussing issues like this with your staff.
Examine Your Hours of Operation: Most businesses have core hours
of operation during which staff attendance is mandatory. Identify
those core hours for your company. Chances are they add up to only
20 to 30 hours of an employee’s weekly schedule. Use the other 10 to
20 hours to offer flexible work hours to your entire staff – not
just those who are caregivers.
is creativity. For example, you may allow an employee to come in two
hours later than usual, but stay two hours later at night. Or maybe
someone takes a longer lunch break and makes up the hours later in
the day. If possible, consider four 10-hour days rather than five
8-hour days. Remember, the goal is not reducing someone’s hours; it
is being flexible in meeting coverage needs during core and non-core
hours. In return, you’ll relieve workplace stress, boost morale and
Make Information Available: Many companies offer benefits for
employees who care for a family member. These benefits may include
employee assistance programs, personal leaves of absence, and the
Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). However, don’t assume all employees
are aware of the types of programs offered by your company. You can
help by making available the information that addresses a variety
of employee needs. Post pamphlets in break rooms for local service
providers of elder care, child care, respite care and the Local Area
on Aging office, as well as information on the company’s various
assistance programs. Making the information readily available
increases the likelihood of employees reading it.
Win/Win Scenario for All: With today’s weakening economy and
shrinking talent pool, employee retention is important. Doing all
you can to educate employees about resources available and staying
flexible will help you develop a win/win proposition that benefits
you, your employees and their families.
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