How to Help Employees Find a Balance Between Caregiving and Career

This is a guest post from Jori Hamilton on a topic that doesn’t get much attention but clearly impacts a lot of businesses – check out her bio at the end of the post. Thanks Jori.

According to a study by the AARP, over one-fifth of Americans — that is, roughly 53 million individuals, have provided care to either an adult or a child with special needs within the last 12 months. In other words, 21.3% of Americans are providing unique levels of care for loved ones.

This care is often given while also balancing the needs and demands of a career. The above study also cited the fact that the average age of a caregiver looking after an adult is 49.4 years old. This means many people are facing the challenge of caring for another individual during some of the most important and lucrative years of their career.

This need to balance peak career activity and quality caregiving can be overwhelming at the best of times and takes a hard-to-find sense of balance to be successful. It also requires support from the caregiver’s own network, including their employers.

The Challenges of Caring and Working at the Same Time

Many factors can make caregiving challenging, regardless of your state of employment.

For instance, caregivers must coordinate multiple schedules for more than one individual. They also need to manage mountains of paperwork and both schedule and attend doctor’s appointments. They have to orchestrate the consistent intake of endless drugs, as well, from powerful prescriptions to over-the-counter options for treating minor ailments, such as allergies or medication for GERD.

Additionally, there’s pressure to invest money — often their own — in things like thorough first aid training or technological solutions designed to ease the life of an older person. To top it all off, caregivers, especially when caring for a parent or loved one, must also find time to simply interact and socialize with the person in their charge.

For many, all of these responsibilities must be tended to along with a career. Everything from showing up at work on time to meeting deadlines and coming through for coworkers and customers alike must be managed without losing sight of the needs of their loved ones.

This combination of two full-time responsibilities can cripple an individual. It can leave them overwhelmed and physically and mentally broken. The problem is, both career and care are necessities that cannot be ignored. Neither one can be consistently prioritized while the other is regularly neglected. This is why balance is the key to sustained success.

How to Navigate Career and Caregiving

Many challenges come with caring for an elderly individual. When these are combined with work, they become downright overwhelming. While individuals must find ways to maintain a sense of balance, there’s another party in the equation that can also help: employers.

Here are a few ways that bosses and managers can help their employees succeed both in the workplace and in their personal lives when they are looking after an elderly loved one.

Offer Targeted Benefits

In the same manner that maternity leave has become more common, consider offering perks that are specifically for employees that are caring for loved ones.

This isn’t a new idea, but it has certainly gained in popularity as the population continues to age. Common perks of this nature included things like part-time schedules, flexible work hours, remote work options, and counseling.

Access to resources and services that help with providing care is also a great idea. For instance, you can offer information about assisted-living options or access to specialists, such as financial services that can help with estate and end-of-life financial planning.

Take the Leap By Offering Paid Family Leave

Another resource that is becoming increasingly popular is offering straight-up, unrestricted paid family leave. This allows employees to take the time that they need to focus on their family’s needs when they are severe.

While this has major benefits for the employees themselves, it also enhances their sense of loyalty and helps them focus on work when they’re present. This can indirectly benefit an employer, as well, making it a win-win benefit.

Encourage Self-Care

The self-care movement has had its ups and downs in recent years. However, caregivers are one group of individuals that deserves time for themselves more than most. It doesn’t matter if they’re helping a cooperative, loving elder or an abusive parent, all caregivers need time to rest and recuperate.

As an employer, you can’t force an employee to take care of themselves. However, you can certainly provide the resources for them to do so through things like paid family leave. Make sure to actively make an effort to promote and encourage the need for self-care. Let employees know that they aren’t being judged for needing time for themselves. This reassurance can do wonders in helping them remain healthy — both physically and mentally — positive, and committed to their work.

Helping Employees Find Balance

Caregiving is a responsibility that is becoming more and more common as time goes on. As such, employers need to take their employee’s duty to their loved ones seriously.

Not only should they make allowance for the giving of care. They should also actively seek to support those employees who are, in their own turn, offering support to others. This fosters a sense of positivity and cultivates the loyalty of your staff. It also stands as a quiet yet powerful testament to any business’s corporate social responsibility efforts.

Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of subjects but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to business productivity, marketing strategies, and HR solutions. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Shawn Kinkade Kansas City Business Coach

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