Employer Content
Helps with getting started. Provides a framework for designing and implementing your program.
 


A growing collection of research, white papers, surveys and studies quantifying the impact of caregiving in the workplace and providing examples of model programs.
 


Checklists, forms, and other resources for employers AND employees.
Creating a Supportive Environment - Article

Reduce the tension between work and family goals

 

Caregivers for elderly or disabled adults tend to keep these matters private, certainly more so than with child care. In many cases, workers are reluctant to even admit to having priorities that may be viewed as competing with their jobs.

  • When it comes to time with family and time at work, try to avoid win-or-lose contests-and contexts. These are typically circumstances in which employees perceive they must sacrifice some caregiving responsibilities, or make difficult decisions, in order to be seen as truly valuable.
  • To some extent, the idea that workers who stay late must be more committed to their jobs is still an ingrained part of workplace culture. For an increasing number of organizations, a true assessment of a worker's value may be best measured by the success of completed projects, rather than by hours logged.

Because many caregiving situations are precipitated by a crisis (a relative suffers a stroke, a fall at home, or other triggering event), working caregivers may simply be trying to hold things together until they can work out a longer-term solution. In these circumstances, it pays for employers to be flexible and to provide as much "room to maneuver" as they reasonably can.


Consider Alternatives and Match Your Response To Your Needs 

An employer's policies and programs must be responsive to the needs of the workforce. One alternative many organizations explore is a flexible work scheduling. This alternative, commonly referred to as "flextime", can take various forms including:

  • Employees work 40-hour weeks in fewer days-four 10-hour days, for example.
  • Moving away from an across-the-board, company-wide schedule of 9 to 5. Overlapping shifts, in which one group of workers may work from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. while another group comes on board at 10 a.m. and leaves at 6 p.m., is one system that many companies have tried successfully.
  • Letting employees start work earlier, or leave later in the day, or extending the work week to six or seven days, with fewer work hours each day.

In some instances, "telecommuting" may make the most sense, especially for the caregiving employee who finds himself or herself providing increasingly more intense, day-to-day care. Telecommuting involves portioning time from the work schedule for off-site work. How much and how often depends on the worker's situation and the nature of the employee-supervisor relationship. By and large, organizations that have instituted these flextime policies have found they met with positive results: a more productive staff, stronger recruitment and retention. A potential drawback, however, is that managers are often concerned about a negative impact on communication, while workers may worry about seeming somehow less committed to their jobs. But in the case of caregivers, the lack of such alternatives may create an untenable situation. Almost 16 percent of primary caregivers who work must eventually quit due to their responsibilities, while another 33 percent must work reduced hours.

 

Steps any employer can take when putting such policies into place include:

  • Ask employees to get directly involved in the process. Those who want flextime should take on some of the responsibility for developing the program.
  • Consider which alternatives will be made available, and which will be excluded. Be as specific as possible when ironing out such policies, although this doesn't mean the program has to be rigid. Employees should always have a clear idea about what's expected from them.
  • Eligibility for flextime can be a sticking point with both employers and employees. Be prepared for questions involving seniority, or with the perception that anyone working off-site isn't working as hard.
  • An application form may be a good idea, in which workers outline their needs and explain why their requests for flexible work schedules make sense for the employer from a business standpoint. Flextime only works if managers are willing to ease the reins a bit. Employers should carefully consider supervisors' styles before moving forward too quickly.

Organizations may initially offer a few limited options directed to very specific dependent care needs. An example might be taking steps to accommodate those workers who care for a parent or relative who suffers from dementia.


Promote Awareness of Caregiver Resources 

There's a wealth of resources available - particularly for employees in eldercare situations - yet few individuals fully take advantage of what's there. The problem is largely one of awareness. Most employees simply don't know about what options are out there, so organizations that make information about caregiving available can head off many potential work-family conflicts.

Where do caregivers typically look for information?

  • With increasing frequency, caregivers are turning to the internet.
  • Many seek information from health professionals such as doctors and nurses. They also may contact friends, relatives, clergy, or other caregivers for information.
  • Others look to other sources that may be of direct help, such as social service organizations and organizations dealing with specific diseases.

For most caregivers, this scattershot approach proves frustrating, and the time required to sort through all the information and to evaluate and arrange for services quickly starts to bleed into work. The Caregiver's Library (www.CaregiversLibrary.org) was designed to combat this by organizing and shortening the search, offering caregivers a single place where they can access the most relevant information. Make sure employees know how to access these resources, and that they have your support in doing so.


Keep the door open

It is unlikely that employers have any kind of specialization in the area of caregiving. But that doesn't mean supervisors can't listen, or demonstrate that the organization is sensitive to worker concerns.

  • Supervisors and managers can go a long way toward increasing employee commitment by demonstrating they know the types of "balancing acts" employees maintain. Often, caregivers are just looking for an indication that someone knows and is sensitive to their needs.
  • Regular communication can be an effective way of de-stressing caregivers at work.
  • A manager or supervisor who sincerely inquires about a worker's relative or family member can make inroads to a more family-friendly environment. In many cases, it can be the little things that make a difference. Keep in mind that, with the escalating competition and fast-paced demands of today's labor market, more employees are asking companies to demonstrate a real commitment to them and their families.
  • If a company has the resources, it may provide employees with opportunities for counseling, referral services, geriatric care management services or other external support.
  • Smaller organizations may not be able to afford such formal services, but can provide a degree of flexibility that many larger organizations cannot.

After The Flood
Download this free, to-the-point, guide to help flood victims protect themselves against diseases and other hazards in the days and weeks following a flood.

AfterTheFlood.pdf

Provided by
the Illinois Department of Public Health

Caregivers Handbook

This handy guide provides resources, checklists and worksheets
 - all in one place.