Supporting at Home Caregiver Employees

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I’ve recently worked with human resource (HR) leaders from a range of organizations to strengthen their internal support for employees with family caregiving responsibilities at home. It’s gratifying to see caregiving emerge as an area of focus for many employers, but it is also something that has become a business necessity. 

Major demographic and generational shifts are affecting all aspects of life, including employment. We are now in a time that people are living longer than ever before, with more comorbidities than ever before, with smaller families than ever before. As the old increasingly outnumber the young, there is an ever-growing need for caregivers. At the same time, those who may have been presumed to be available to fulfill family caregiving roles in the past are more likely to be engaged in full-time work. 

In light of the above, more and more employees are confronted with the challenge of working while caring for aging or disabled loved ones. These employees generally do not consider either work or caregiving to be optional activities—instead, they find themselves struggling through a perpetual “balancing act” of trying to meet the demands of their job and family simultaneously. 

Family-friendly employers will thus have an advantage in today’s competitive labor market. In addition to improved retention, employers supporting their workers with caregiving responsibilities at home are more likely to earn accolades as a “great place to work.” 

In my collaborations with HR professionals, I’ve encountered some “best practices” among employers seeking to better support their employees with caregiving responsibilities at home. I’d like to share five of these best practices with you. 

1—Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) for Caregivers

Many organizations have established different employee groups oriented around diversity/equity/inclusion initiatives. These groups permit employees to coalesce around shared interests, support one another, and offer suggestions on fostering an inclusive workplace. Because caregiving does not discriminate, caregivers in your organization come from all social categories; however, their needs are unique. The establishment of an ERG for caregivers has the potential to help your organization understand how it can become more caregiver-friendly. 

2—Workplace Policies that Reduce the Strain of Dual Roles

Family caregivers can be frequently conflicted about navigating work and family responsibilities. They may feel pressure to be in two places at once, so flextime and remote work policies are especially beneficial for employed caregivers. Paid and unpaid leave policies might also be reviewed and revised with an eye toward workplace accommodations for employees who are caring for aging or disabled loved ones. 

3—Access to Counseling for Employees with Caregiving Duties

The protracted nature of family caregiving and employment can present a host of physical, mental, and emotional challenges for working caregivers over time. Employers may offer their employee-caregivers access to licensed mental health practitioners through an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or under contract with a local provider. Getting confidential, professional help can have a profound impact on the well-being and productivity of your employees with caregiving duties at home. 

4—Training for Managers and Employees on the Realities of Family Caregiving

Caregiving is so universal to human experience that it is likely to touch every one of us, either as a caregiver or a care receiver (or perhaps both). Nevertheless, many people find themselves totally unprepared for the family caregiver role when it arrives. Similarly, managers often do not know how to support employees who are struggling with family caregiving obligations. Employers that proactively educate their staff on the realities of family caregiving demonstrate an astute interest in the humanity of their workforce and lay the groundwork for future efforts to help employee-caregivers in their time of need. 

5—Partnerships with Organizations Serving Family Caregivers

Employers can have a substantial impact by establishing partnerships with care managers, home care providers, assisted living facilities, estate planners, and other organizations that cater to the needs of aging/disabled adults and their families. Your employees with family caregiving duties are likely to appreciate having access to vetted, knowledgeable, and reputable providers. By the same token, your partners will benefit from your referrals and should take a special interest in serving your employees. 

I’ve personally observed the impact that implementing these suggestions can have on working caregivers. 

As a former HR professional, I’m also aware of the inherent tensions in managing a workforce. Implementing some of these suggestions may require front-end energy and expense, but I would also argue that the return on investment (ROI) comes in the form of employees who’ve been meaningfully supported in a time of adversity and are potentially happier, more engaged, and more loyal to the organization. 

You can download a free copy of the 5 Ways to Support a Family Caregiver here.


If you’re looking for caregiving resources to share with your employees, please see Dr. Blight’s free downloadable resources for caregivers

If you’d like to find out how Caregiving Kinetics can assist your HR team in supporting employees with family caregiving responsibilities, please contact us.

Posted in Caregiver Workforce Consulting, Caregiving