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How Can Workplaces Foster a Compassionate Culture for Caregivers?

A middle aged woman wearing a blue shirt and beaded necklace feeding her mother. There is a bowl of fruit and and bowl of soup on the table they are sitting at.

I recently read an article in Newsweek, "Caregivers Are Invisible. They Shouldn't Be" by Emma Nadler. The article makes an important point – caregivers are often overlooked and under-supported in the workplace.

One of the reasons that caregiving is overlooked is that the only caregivers that are commonly recognized by employers are mothers. This very limited view of caregiving is not only harmful to women in the workplace but to every caregiver. Caregiving responsibilities encompass more than childcare. It also includes caring for a family member with disabilities, chronic illness, or aging-related needs. The demands are immense - administering medications and medical equipment, providing emotional support, coordinating appointments, assisting with daily living activities like bathing and eating, and making difficult healthcare decisions. Many caregivers end up sacrificing their careers, relationships, mental health, and finances.

At FIC Human Resource Partners, we recognized that caregiving responsibilities often conflicted with work responsibilities and as a result had a negative impact on employee performance, engagement, and retention. That’s why we have incorporated questions about caregiving status and related workplace experiences into our client-facing employee and culture surveys since 2021. The goal is twofold. First, we aim to foster a compassionate culture that acknowledges the dual roles many employees play. Second, we seek to understand the strains, needs, and concerns of caregivers so that we can help our clients support and retain the caregivers in their organization.

Supporting caregivers is not only a moral obligation but also makes good business sense. With tens of millions of Americans taking on caregiving duties now or likely to in the future, we must make this issue more visible and respond compassionately. The personal, emotional, and financial toll is too great to ignore.

How to Support Caregivers in Your Organization

  1. Include Caregiver status as part of your regular employee and culture surveys to understand caregiving prevalence and needs among your workforce. Ask questions that help understand the needs and challenges of caregivers. Including these questions in your surveys allows you to tailor support and track culture improvements.

  2. Provide flexible work arrangements like telecommuting, flexible schedules, or job sharing. This helps employees balance appointments and unpredictability.

  3. Offer paid family leave beyond FMLA that specifically includes care for ill or disabled family members. This can ease financial burdens and reduces stress.

  4. Create a caregivers resource or affinity group.  These groups can offer support, community, and help lead culture and policy improvements.

  5. Implement an employee wellbeing program that includes resources and services that can support caregivers. Wellbeing programs help reduce stress and reduce burnout which improves both employee performance and retention.

  6. Provide training for managers on the signs of caregiver distress and strategies to express empathy and prevent discrimination.

  7. Factor caregiving status into succession planning and advancement decisions to ensure careers do not stall due to temporary reductions in hours.

  8. Have guidelines for reasonable accommodations if caregiving duties intensify - e.g. leaves of absence, temporary telecommuting.

Implementing these types of supportive policies and programs fosters an inclusive culture that values the wellbeing of all employees, including those with significant caregiving responsibilities outside of work.

Find out how our surveys and consulting teams can help you understand and support the caregivers on your team.


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