In September, The Intentional Caregiver published, “Eight Tips for the Working Caregiver:What the Employee Can Do.” The suggestions were geared toward employees in order to help them navigate their working caregiver role to the satisfaction of both the employee and their employer.
However, the working relationship is not one-sided. The employee must bring an excellent skill set, positive outlook and can-do attitude to work – even while caregiving – but the employer also has a responsibility to help employees succeed.
Even if they are working caregivers.
More than seven in ten caregivers are working either full or part-time in addition to their caregiving duties so employers will inevitably employ a caregiver. There are ways an employer can keep employees in the workforce while the employee also manages caregiving duties in their personal life.
These four key tips will help the employer partner with the working caregiver in order to successfully navigate the stressful situation of both working and caregiving. In the process, the employer will find they have created a long-term partnership with a valued employee who takes pride in their contributions to the business and the success of the organization.
- Create a Secure Environment. It will be very difficult, if not impossible, to successfully manage a working caregiver if they do not feel safe talking openly about their caregiving situation. The employer does not need to pry into the details (especially if the employee would like to keep them private) but creating an empathetic and caring environment will help the employee feel secure enough to share their general situation without fear.
- Flexibility & Creative Problem Solving. This applies to both the employee and employer. As an employer, consider permitting employees to work from home if not full-time then on a temporary or part-time basis. The employee may need to propose a revised schedule to the employer but how refreshing would it be to have the employer ask the employee if that would be helpful to them!
- Beef up the Low Cost, Big Bang Benefits. For very little cost the employer can add an Employee Assistance Program to their benefit package. This allows employees to reach out for resources anonymously and very well could be the difference between a stressed-out employee and one who feels their situation is manageable. Take this idea one step further and consider adding “caregiving” as a topic at company health fairs, even hiring a caregiving expert to talk with the employees. Another no-cost benefit to consider adding would be to create informal, round-table discussions during the lunch hour for employees who are caregivers. (Turn this into “low cost” and occasionally order in sandwiches for the employees!) Talking with others in a similar situation is very therapeutic and the opportunity to exchange caregiving tips can be very helpful, reinforcing camaraderie in the process.
- Recognize the Upside. Caregivers develop many skills that can help make them extraordinary employees. Organization, critical-thinking and advocacy are some of the essential tools of a caregiver. These same tools can help the employee negotiate with vendors on behalf of the employer, keep tasks on track and organized as well as under-budget! Caregivers make great leaders in the organization and will have the skills to mediate disputes, solve problems and keep calm under pressure.
These are four simple, inexpensive ways an employer can help employees feel supported during a stressful time in their lives. While working caregivers may need flexibility to handle personal emergencies, they will most assuredly contribute greatly to the overall success of the organization. Once an employer recognizes the value in these employees and partners with them through a very challenging time, they will be rewarded with a conscientious and dedicated, long-term employee.
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