In the modern world, the role of caregivers has become increasingly significant as the aging population and changing family dynamics create a growing demand for caregiving responsibilities. Caregivers play a crucial role in providing physical, emotional, and logistical support to their loved ones, whether children, disabled or sick relatives, or aging parents.
Many caregivers, however, face significant challenges in balancing their caregiving duties with their professional lives. In this context, companies have an important role to play in supporting caregivers through various initiatives that promote work-life balance, employee well-being, and a compassionate corporate culture.
In partnership with the Deloitte Center for Financial Services, my company, Workplace Intelligence, recently surveyed 700 executives in the financial services sector. We found that 3 out of 4 executives with caregiving responsibilities are experiencing issues with stress or work-life balance. Compared to non-caregivers, these leaders were more likely to have considered measures such as reducing work hours, changing roles, or taking a sabbatical to alleviate stress.
Perhaps most alarmingly, caregivers were 30% more likely than non-caregivers to say they’d leave their current role if their ability to work remotely was eliminated. That’s in spite of the fact that caregivers reported being more engaged, more connected to their manager and their organization, and more likely to recommend their company to their children or a relative for future employment.
These workers have also developed a unique set of workplace skillsets as a direct result of their caregiving responsibilities. For example, new research featured in Harvard Business Review found that workers who provide unpaid caregiving reported improved skills in empathy, efficiency, teamwork, emotional intelligence, multitasking and more.
If you’re a manager or business leader, you may be surprised to learn that 73% of U.S. employees are caregivers, and 4 out of 10 caregivers are men. You may even think that these numbers can’t possibly be right. However, there’s a reason for this disconnect: more than half of caregivers don't tell their supervisors about it, revealing that there’s still a significant stigma associated with caregiving.
Fortunately, most companies are encouraging employees to be open about their caregiving responsibilities, but leaders could be doing much more to create a compassionate and supportive corporate culture. And with so many employers pushing for a return-to-the-office right now, I believe there’s a pressing need for leaders to improve their awareness around this issue and ramp up their support.
In fact, for employers — especially those in the financial services sector, where return-to-office mandates are in full effect — these findings should act as an important wake-up call. Not only do caregivers likely comprise the majority of your workforce, but they may be some of your most dedicated and hardworking employees. Without the right support in place, however, they may have no choice but to leave.
In today’s article, I’ll discuss 6 ways employers can support workers with caregiving responsibilities. Let’s take a look.
- Flexible Work Arrangements: As I noted earlier, caregivers were more likely to say they’d leave their job if their company took away their ability to work remotely. That’s why one of the most impactful ways employers can support caregivers is by offering flexible work arrangements. Flexibility in terms of work hours, remote work options, and part-time schedules can allow caregivers to manage their responsibilities more effectively.
- Paid Family Leave and Caregiver Leave: Paid family and caregiver leave policies provide essential financial support to employees who need to take time off to care for their loved ones. Companies can demonstrate their understanding and empathy by offering robust paid leave options that cover various caregiving situations, such as caring for aging parents, children, or partners with health conditions. This not only provides relief to caregivers but also fosters loyalty and engagement among employees.
- Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs): EAPs are comprehensive support systems that offer counseling, resources, and guidance to employees facing personal challenges. Companies can extend EAPs to caregivers, providing them with access to professional advice, emotional support, and helpful resources that address both their caregiving and personal needs. EAPs can serve as a lifeline for caregivers, helping them navigate the complexities of their responsibilities while maintaining their mental and emotional well-being.
- Caregiver Support Groups and Workshops: Creating spaces for caregivers to connect and share experiences can be immensely beneficial. Companies can organize caregiver support groups or workshops where employees can discuss their challenges, learn coping strategies, and gain insights from peers who are in similar situations. These initiatives foster a sense of community, reduce isolation, and create an environment of mutual support.
- Educational Resources: Providing caregivers with educational resources and training can empower them to better fulfill their caregiving roles. Companies can partner with relevant organizations to offer workshops on topics like effective communication with healthcare professionals, managing stress, and understanding legal and financial aspects of caregiving. By offering these resources, companies not only assist caregivers in their personal lives but also equip them with valuable skills that can enhance their performance at work.
- Career Development Opportunities: In my research with Deloitte, 60% of respondents said employees with childcare or eldercare responsibilities are less likely to be promoted at their company. Supporting caregivers' professional growth, for example by offering opportunities for skills development and training, will help them maintain their career trajectory while managing their caregiving responsibilities. This not only benefits caregivers but also contributes to the overall growth and diversity of talent within the organization.
Supporting Caregivers: A Win-Win Scenario for Employees and Companies
Supporting caregivers is not just a moral imperative, but also a strategic move for companies that want to create a compassionate and resilient workforce. By implementing some of the measures I’ve described in today’s article, companies can acknowledge and address the challenges faced by caregivers. In doing so, they’ll demonstrate a commitment to employee well-being and create a workplace culture that values both professional and personal responsibilities.