Creating a Supportive Environment When developing your programs consider these straightforward facts. Working caregivers say they need:
As you prepare to meet their needs you should plan around four broad categories of needs:
- A stated corporate policy for caregivers
- A source to help them understand and locate caregiving resources
- Fact sheets, checklists or guides to help with caregiving responsibilities
- Help in planning
- Logistical flexibility - work hours, time for calls, etc.
Throughout the process, learn about other employers' programs and build as you are able. It is perfectly ok to phase in programs and benefits. Start small, but start!
The Importance of "Culture" The key factor between success and failure when implementing new caregiving and eldercare programs is whether one makes improving the culture a priority. Employees must feel sufficient corporate level support for caregiver programs in order to feel that it is safe to participate. And demonstrating that support is management's job.
"The immediate manager really sets the tone as far as sharing concerns," says Raymond A. Noe, Ph.D. and author of the Academy of Management Journal's 2001 study Caregiving Decisions, Well-Being, and Performance. "Managers can sometimes make employees feel as if they aren't dedicated enough in their careers if they take advantage of programs that could help them deal with their role as caregivers." To help promote cultural change, focus on the benefits of this program, that it's been established to assist employees with adult caregiving issues, and that there will be no strings attached. Re-assure employees that all aspects of their use of the program will remain strictly confidential.
It is important to keep the program visible, by mentioning it in employee newsletters, lunch room posters or company-wide email. New programs can be underutilized if they are not consistently promoted and kept in the foreground. Remember, the benefits of your programs will become increasingly apparent over the longer term. Here are four additional steps every organization-regardless of size-can take to help caregiving employees:
- Reduce the tension between work and family goals
- Consider alternatives and match your response to your needs
- Promote awareness of caregiver resources
- Keep the door open