Although being a caregiver is part of the willing sacrifice we make for our family, it can also be an extremely demanding job. In fact, 75% of carers worry about having to leave their job because of their caring responsibilities.
Being a carer can strain even the most resilient employees. Caregiver colleagues provide care not just for the physical needs of their loved one(s), but they also must concede with the emotional and mental burden of this.
This issue is magnified tenfold in a cost-of-living crisis. Because of this, many employees with caring responsibilities are on the brink of burnout, and support from their employer could really go a long way.
When employers prioritise their staff’s wellbeing, this leads to a 12% increase in productivity. The actions organisations take to better support carers, will not only make them feel like valued and respected members of the team, but also have fruitful outcomes for your business.
Here are some of my suggestions on how employers can better support their carers during a cost-of-living crisis.
1. Offering flexible work arrangements
One of the best ways to support carers is to offer flexible work arrangements. This could mean anything from allowing employees to work from home or offering extended leave for those who are providing long-term care.
When caregivers experience a willingness from their employer to work with them, they won’t feel forced to have to choose their caring responsibilities over their job. Companies will be able to retain the skilled employees that they have.
2. Encouraging the use of EAPs (Employee Assistance Programs)
The purpose of EAPs is to provide help for employees with personal and work-related challenges. The counselling services offered by many EAPs can prove helpful to carers who are struggling to manage their work and home obligations, and their mental health.
Teams should encourage employees caring for loved ones to take advantage of their EAP benefits and let them know there is no shame in seeking help – in fact, it is a strength.
3. Empathy and respect
Employers should promote a culture of empathy and respect for everyone in the workplace. Organisational level efforts for carers begin with educating employees about what carers do and the challenges they face.
Workplaces should also be aware of intersectionality – somebody might not just be a carer but also have other issues to contend with, such as race, gender, sexuality, neurodiversity or mental health.
Studies carried out globally suggested a consensus that empathy in the workplace is positively linked to job performance. When carers feel understood and appreciated at work, they’ll be more likely to contribute to a positive work environment.
4. Provide career coaching as a benefit
Career coaches help carers develop the strategies they need to plan for the future and build the resilience they need to adjust to their unique role as a caregiver and professional.
Tailored programmes that accommodate specific situations, such as being a carer while working, finding sustainable working patterns, building support networks, and managing emotional wellbeing, can help employees at all stages of their career. When organisations actively demonstrate support for what carers are facing and offer them solutions, it creates a more positive and productive work experience for everyone.
5. Establish an ERG (Employee Resource Group) for the carers in your organisation
The creation of an ERG for carers is an excellent way to provide support. Start by identifying someone to lead the group who is also a carer themselves, and with their input develop a structure that would help to facilitate ongoing conversations among carers in your workplace.
A carer’s ERG can be a great way for leaders to find out what caregivers truly need to do their best work so that they can support them accordingly. However, it’s absolutely essential that any ERGs receive robust outside sponsorship from senior leaders to ensure they’re getting the support they need within the business.
One of the major issues with ERGs is that often, the burden of responsibility to change views around these groups is being placed solely on the ERG. This isn’t fair. Keep in mind that you’re not providing support when the people who are experiencing the issue are also being asked to fix it.