As someone who is both a working caregiver and the manager of several employees who are or have been caregivers, my perspective on the challenges facing working caregivers is unique. I have provided tips on what the employee can do as well as what the employer can do to help navigate the challenges faced by working caregivers.
What we have not yet covered is what the manager would like to see happen during the time an employee is also managing a caregiving situation at home. As a manager, I am going to let you in on some secrets (some of these may even surprise you!).
- Tell Me What is Going On. Of course, the working caregiver does not have to talk to their manager about their caregiving situation but it certainly will help. A sympathetic boss will do wonders to relieve the stress of the working caregiver.
- Show Me Your Commitment and I Will Reciprocate. If your manager sees you juggling appointments in order to work at least a partial day instead of taking a full day off, the next time someone complains that you have too many appointments, that manager will be the first to defend you.
- Take a Sick Day! Yep, you heard that right. This manager is encouraging you to take a sick (or vacation) day. Preferably, when you or the person you are caring for are not actually sick! Take a day to regroup. Send your loved one to their Day Program as usual but stay home and do something you love. You will thank yourself and your manager will appreciate the employee who shows up the next day with renewed energy.
- Tell Me What You Need. Managers have a lot going on and lots of people to keep happy (not to mention a business to run). We do not read minds very well. Be direct. Tell your manager what you need. A flexible schedule? A longer lunch hour? A temporary part-time schedule? I would rather work with the employee I know than have to go through the hiring process because my employee assumed I would not help them out.
- Work Hard When At Work. Please come to work, ready to work. If an employee works hard for their boss, that boss will work hard for them. Managers want their employees to be successful so remind them how wonderful you are by doing stellar work.
- Show Appreciation to Co-Workers. There is no doubt other employees are picking up the slack if a working caregiver is out of the office to care for their loved one due to appointments or emergency situations. Managers do not want to see a working caregiver acting entitled to others doing their job. Say thank you to those helping during these situations.
- Reciprocate When Others Become Caregivers. Once a caregiving situation ends, you can be a huge help to others new to the working caregiver role. Become a role-model for that person, offer to help, share what you learned during your own situation.
Keep in mind these tips are from the belief that managers and employers would like their employees to succeed. There are some working situations that are less than ideal and these suggestions may be the last thing your own manager would like to see happen. You are the best judge of your work situation and should proceed using these tips accordingly.
Start with the belief that your boss wants what is best not only for the company but for their employees as well and you will be able to successfully navigate the working caregiver situation.
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