5 Workplace Policies That Make Life Easier for Family Caregivers

5 policiesWhat makes a good work environment for working daughters and sons?

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?

  1. 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.*
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.




2 comments on “5 Workplace Policies That Make Life Easier for Family Caregivers”

  1. Chris MacLellan Reply

    Juggling work and Caregiving is a daunting task. Finding a way to communicate our special Caregiving needs to our employer will go a long way to secure your job while giving you peace of mind. I think one of the first step is to self-identify as a family Caregiver to your manger, the owner, or maybe even a trusted coworker. When you self-identify as a family Caregiver at work, it can eliminate many questions about changes in your job performance, productivity and behavior, along with getting the issues out in the open. With 45.5 million Caregivers in the country, don’t you think there is a good chance someone at work is going to be in the same boat you are in? How would you know unless you are self-identified as a family Caregiver?It is so important for an employer to create a work place culture that is beneficial to everyone. When a business owner and the executive leaders create circles of collaboration among their employees, problems are solved creatively and quickly, and values drive decisions with long-term stability in mind, that might otherwise be ignored in favor of short-term, narrow and limited decisions made from scarcity thinking. Caregiving affects every area of life!

    • admin Reply

      So true Chris. But it can feel risky for some to self identify. Just like becoming a new parent, you don’t want to be marginalized at work. But if managers create a trusting environment, everybody wins.

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