Jennifer Owens, editorial director of Working Mother magazine, shared the five workplace policies that make life easier for new parents with Mashable and it got me thinking, what are the best workplace policies that make life easier for family caregivers?
Here are my recommendations – they’re similar to the policies that help parents, with some additions. What would you add?
- Paid leave. Language matters. Just as it is important for men that we talk about parental leave, not just maternity leave, it’s important for caregivers that we talk about family leave, not just parental leave. Million of working Americans are caring for aging and sick family members and they need time to do that. Currently, only 13 percent of workers in the United States have access to paid family leave through their employers and yet seven out of 10 caregivers report having to make work accommodations while they are caring for a family member. Rhode Island, California and New Jersey are the only states with paid leave policies. That needs to change.*
- Family-friendly cultures. As Owen’s points out, there’s a difference between workplace policies and workplace culture. This became very apparent to me while writing Mogul, Mom & Maid. Owners and managers must do the work to ensure that if they offer family-friendly policies, they also create a culture where employees feel safe to access those policies. This means encouraging management to use the policies- culture starts at the top – and creating true team environments so employees are confident their work will be covered in the event they need to take time away from work.
- Back up elder care. Companies that want to combat not only absenteesim as a result of elder care but also presenteesim, should consider offering back up eldercare services. When eldercare services fall through, employees can use backup care and still report to work. And when a family member is home recovering, an employee can hire a short-term caregiver and have peace of mind that their family member is okay while they are at work.
- Geriatric care managers. Forward-thinking companies are subsidizing geriatric care managers for employees in need. Care managers can develop a care plan, manage long distance care needs, help with Medicaid and insurance, and arrange for additional services, among other things.
- Flexibility. Too many workplaces still value face time over productivity. Employees who are given the flexibility to manage their lives during business hours are more likely to do what it takes to get important projects done and to develop loyalty. Simple things like work-from-home days and custom hours can go a long way in keeping a caregiver productive in life and at work.
*Click here to support efforts to create a national paid leave policy.