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ReACT Toolkit for Employers

Have the Conversation

Supporting Employees With Caregiving Responsibilities in the Workplace

ReACT - Have the Conversation

What Employers Are Saying

“When you get right down to it, you have nine months to prepare for the birth of a child, but it feels like you have nine seconds to prepare for a crisis with your senior loved one. Employers have a major role in supporting their employees with either planned or unplanned needs.”
Jeff Huber, Home Instead Senior Care

Manager and employee talking

Where Do I Start?

The dual responsibilities that employees who are also caregivers face can be very demanding and require extra support from their organization. Supervisors should become familiar with the issues of employed caregivers and learn about existing resources that can help employees maintain a healthy work life balance.

  • Straight Talk: The first place to start when dealing with employees having to balance their work and caregiving responsibilities is by simply talking to them. Research shows that more than 1 in 6 American workers are also caregivers. and 28 percent of those caring for an aging parent, relative or friend report their employers are unaware of their caregiving status.
  • Reframe the Conversation: Add in a question during your employee’s evaluations or one-on-one meetings that discuss their responsibilities outside the office. Many times caregivers do not identify themselves; by asking this question you are not only opening up avenues to help them, you are helping them to see they are, in fact, a caregiver.
  • Create an Open-Door Policy: Make sure that they know you are always there for them to talk about their needs. This type of support can increase employee productivity and commitment to the organization.

Tools to help have the conversation include:

  • Caring Connections Sample Learning Modules for Supervisors: Supporting Employees Who Are Family Caregivers — This site discusses the issues facing working caregivers and teaches you about resources that can assist employees in maintaining a healthy balance between work and home life. It also covers the importance of being familiar with the company’s benefits and resources for family caregivers.
  • Caring Workplace Survey — Provided by St. Andrew’s Resources for seniors, a nonprofit organization with Federal Administration on Aging grant funds, this online survey collects important employee information that can help you better understand their caregiving needs.

What the Research Shows

  • Need for Information: The most recent national caregiver survey Caregiving in the U.S. (NAC and AARP, 2009) reports that caregivers have a need for more information about caregiving in general (78 percent of respondents were caring for an older adult). The respondents were interested in ensuring the safety of their loved one, managing their own stress, and balancing work and family.
  • Gender Matters: The MetLife Study of Sons at Work: Balancing Employment and Eldercare found that gender issues were an important factor in the workplace when it comes to caregiving and eldercare programming. An increasing number of family caregivers are men, and there are similarities between men and women when it comes to caregiving tasks, workplace effects and needs. However, men are more likely than women to keep their caregiving responsibilities to themselves and not talk about it with supervisors or coworkers.

The complete resource guide can be found in our ReACT research section.

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Caregiving Resource Center

Resources, tools and tips to help you manage the care of a loved one.