Number of Employees: 57,000 working in 36 countries; 4,000 in Fox Valley region of Wisconsin Irving, Texas
(Consumer Products Headquarters)
Program: Family Caregiver Network
Kimberly-Clark decided to let employees form voluntary Employee Diversity Networks, now called Employee Resource Groups, more than 20 years ago. Groups are started by individual employees with a common interest and vary between regional locations of the company (total employees of Kimberly-Clark is about 57,000). The focus of these groups have ranged between women’s resources groups, new employee resource groups, African American resource groups, LGBT groups, etc. One employee had elder caregiving issues and reached out to others interested to start the Family Caregiver Network. Also, since Kimberly-Clark’s product line includes Depend®, a product that is often purchased by caregivers for the care recipient, some members of the network were interested in the needs of caregiving from their role in Depend® marketing or product development, yet were not then caregivers themselves.
The Family Caregiver Network (FCN) leadership began to reach out to local and national resource professionals, conferences and agencies for information in order to educate themselves and develop contacts. The mission of the group is to support the informational needs of family caregivers and to increase awareness on the part of managers about employees with caregiving responsibilities.
The volunteers who lead the Family Caregiver Network offer quarterly events — usually three forums and one workshop a year. Forums are presentations by local/state aging or caregiving resource professionals, agencies and organizations. Topics have included self-care, elder law, scams against the elderly, and Share the Care training. The FCN also developed a Caregiver Starter Kit available to any employee. The kit includes a document organizer, and resource and referral information. There is also a video library of all of the forums for use by employees. The leadership board for the network meets monthly to set objectives, share information about community resources and programs, and to plan the quarterly activities.
Employees who spend time on the Family Caregiver Network are accountable for all their regular job responsibilities. Time used for managing the network or other network-related activities must be made up. However, Kimberly-Clark has provided a small budget for the group to use in developing the forums or securing needed informational products. Network volunteers have also used funds to travel to aging conferences. Although many of the employees are hourly workers, the leadership of the Family Caregiver Network is primarily salaried employees who have the flexibility to do the work necessary to maintain the network.
Kimberly-Clark offers paid vacation, sick leave and emergency leave and (in some locations) flex time.
Because this program is a voluntary program and not a formal activity of the employer (i.e. it is not part of someone’s job responsibilities), marketing is done by the network executive committee itself largely through email to the opt-in distribution list (numbering about 1,200), a Share Point site and bulletin board announcements. Attendance at forums ranges from 25 to 60 people.
No formal evaluation has been conducted.
Benefit to Employer
This program benefits the employer through enhanced employee retention, satisfaction, an ability of employees to effectively balance work and caregiving, and an improved approach to managing employees with caregiving responsibilities.
Other Program Information
Although this program is not a formal program of Kimberly Clark, the organization has approved the development of the Family Caregiver Network and provided resources (budget, meeting rooms, diversity coordinator/advisor) to this network to use in their work. The Volunteer Executive Board of the Family Caregivers Network represents a range of employee types: managers and technical professionals as well as support staff from a variety of departments.