According to a Harvard Business School study titled The Caring Company, 73 percent of all employees have some type of current caregiving responsibility, which extends far beyond childcare and may include caring for an elderly parent, family member, spouse, or loved one with a disability. On average, these employees spend an additional 20 hours a week in their caregiving role, leaving many overwhelmed, burned out, and depressed.
Caregiving is not new. However, since the pandemic and changing work environment, the impact of navigating these competing roles is more prevalent. Because nearly 52% of employers do not track data on their employees’ caregiving roles, they may not fully understand how these competing priorities affect their mental health.
As Employee Benefits News reports, caregivers are 90% more likely than non-caregivers to experience anxiety on a daily basis. Caregiving, in many cases, leads to burnout, depression, and poor physical health. Alongside worries about their loved ones professional roles, demands on time, and fears about job performance are also driving diminished mental well-being. Combined, this leaves little free mental space to focus on self-care. And in the last three years, nearly one-third of workers voluntarily left their jobs to focus on their caregiving responsibilities, according to the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers (RCI).
How to Support Employees Who Are Caregivers
Supporting employees who are caregivers is multi-faceted. With a focus on retention and attracting talent, providing supportive resources for employees who must juggle caregiving with work is a must for recruitment. Fostering a work environment that openly acknowledges the caregiving continuum is essential to mitigating the stressors caregivers hold. Employers can do this by:
- Promoting a culture that acknowledges caregiving. Offer a Town Hall for an open discussion. Establishing an employee caregiving resource group.
- Adding a caregiving question module to employee surveys.
- Providing psycho-educational presentations on caregiving (e.g., understanding elder care, dementia; early-onset neuro-cognitive disorders; children with disabilities, etc.)
- Providing confidential one-to-one wellness coaching for the caregiver. Give them space to unpack their concerns, get perspective on their roles and provide strategies for self-care.
- Reviewing what additional caregiving resources you can offer (long-term care planning and services, legal information around health care directives and rights, caregiver benefits and financial support).
- Engaging leadership to show support and reduce stigma.
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