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7 Ways to Help Employees Talk About Caregiving Responsibilities

Liz Taurasi on September 30, 2015 07:56 AM

We are a nation of working caregivers, which means employees now more than ever need benefits to help balance work life when it comes to caring for an aging relative.

Considering nearly half of all working Americans have cared for an aging relative, typically a parent, managing that care while maintaining a career can be difficult. The task is large and these responsibilities certainly come with their share of stress.

Providing work-life benefits to support to these individuals can help them remain present and engaged in their jobs, while handling their caregiver responsibilities. However, many employees with senior care responsibilities are reluctant to open up about their struggles or to proactively seek out the work-life supports that might be available to them.

There are several ways employers can help employees feel more comfortable opening up about their caregiving responsibilities  and finding the supports they need. Here’s a look at six ways companies can do just that.

  1. Promote Your Work-Life Benefits
    Make it obvious to your employees that the company does care. Promote resources you offer for senior care not only in the benefits section on the company’s website, as well as in newsletters and emails, but also on the company’s intranet and anywhere else employees can go to find benefit options.

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  1. Train Managers to be Family-Friendly
    For an employee, having a supervisor who understands his or her situation when caring for an aging family member can be just the support they need. A Families and Work Institute 2015 Older Adult Caregiver Study found one quarter of current caregivers count on their employer to be flexible for them to continue to provide care while working at their current job. With a supportive manager who understands the family friendly work environment, an employee will feel comfortable opening up to them about their needs, especially in situations where they may need some managerial support to help them with their caregiving responsibilities.
  1. Hosting Expert-Led Seminars
    Hosting expert seminars for employees on topics relevant to caregivers can offer some much needed support. Hosting expert seminars or workshops for caregivers on topics like Alzheimer’s and dementia, cancer or long-distance caregiving can be a great way to offer some expert guidance for employees dealing with family care issues. And then follow up with attendees to let them know what other work-life supports you might have available to them.

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  1. Peer Support Programs
    Supporting and encouraging peer programs in which employees caring for aging relatives can meet and talk about issues is a great way for employees to connect and share their experiences. By supporting the formation of employee resource groups, you’re effectively able to segment the market, so you can equip the leaders of these groups with relevant materials. Plus, when employees realize they are not alone in their work-life challenges, they may be more apt to reach out in search of the flexibility, benefits or other support they may need.
  1. Test and Iterate
    Your senior care benefits are only as effective as their utilization, right? Well, a March 2012 Best Practices in Workplace Eldercare study found utilization of resource and referral programs to be a persistent problem among workplace elder care programs. Therefore, it’s important for companies to tailor their senior care benefits to meet employee needs. Conducting regular surveys, testing new methods and analyzing utilization are important steps to ensuring your benefits are well suited for the needs of your workforce.

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  1. Lunch and Learn Sessions
    These tried and true tactics may seem archaic to some, but they are still just the thing some employees need. These informal sessions can be informational and helpful to employees, who can drop in and see and talk with others who share similar situations and challenges in a relaxing environment.

  2.  Get Outside the Box 
    Let's face it: Most traditional employee benefits communication methods could use a refresh. Tightening up your employee communication can produce impactful results, including driving engagement, loyalty and organizational support for your work-life benefits programs. How do you get started? Try thinking like a marketer. Click on the button below to learn more. 

An overarching theme running through many of these ideas is to do what you can to make caregiving employees feel comfortable seeking help. Elder care responsibilities are difficult to deal with and, for many of the same reasons, difficult to talk about as well.

Remember, it’s in your best interest to get employees to open up when they need help dealing with caregiving challenges. Because, when working caregivers suffer in silence, everybody loses.


Employee Benefits Communication