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Demonstrate Flexibility

Supporting Employees With Caregiving Responsibilities in the Workplace

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What Employers Are Saying

“So what can employers do to help with this tough caregiving challenge? At we do a few things. For one, everyone’s got PTO, which is personal time off. We also have EETO, which is Elder Care Emergency Time Off. “ – Andy Cohen, Co-Founder & CEO,

How Can I Put This Into Action?

  • Accommodate Juggling: Once you have the conversation and get to know your employees with caregiving responsibilities, think about ways that you can accommodate their schedules. By doing so, you are showing your employed caregiver that you realize they are juggling two full-time jobs: caregiving for a loved one and working at your organization. These caregivers are left with little or no time to take care of themselves or their own lives. Flexibility in the workplace is the No. 1 thing a working caregiver asks for.
  • Look at What Already Exists: As a supervisor, you should be able to provide flexibility to your caregiving employee by becoming familiar with what your organization offers in terms of benefits and resources. Think of ways to list these benefits or categorize them for what would be most useful to a family caregiver. It is now your responsibility to help create a supportive work environment. You can also help by identifying outside resources for additional support.

Tools to Help Demonstrate Flexibility

  • When Work Works Toolkit:  This toolkit provides state and local volun­teer leaders with the tools they need to build support for workplace flexibility in their communities and organizations. It includes discussions about why workplace flexibility is important to HR professionals and how they can promote flexibility.
  • Helping Employees Balance Work and Eldercare: UW-Extension 2012 Cooperative Extension Family Living Programs developed a guide as a useful tool that extension educators and aging network personnel can use in working collaboratively with employers to create work environments that support the needs of employees involved in caring for elderly family members and friends.

What the Research Shows

Flexibility is a key factor in employee retention and morale. In a recent paper by the Families and Work Institute and SHRM (2011) the authors compared some commonly held assumptions about flexibility in the workplace with the research conducted by the Families and Work Institute. Among the assumptions that were not supported by research are the following:

  • Flexibility will be taken advantage of by workers
  • Small employers can’t afford flexibility
  • Offering flexibility to low-wage workers is not efficient
  • Managers see flexibility as a personal favor to individuals
  • There are no benefits of flexibility in high-turnover industries (retail, restaurants, etc.)

Not only does the research support the link between retention and morale with flexibility, it demonstrates that for the next generation of workers, flexibility will be a key motivator for higher responsibility positions. Flexibility is good for the workforce and essential for employed caregivers.