In 2017, 88% of large employers made a bold prediction that caregiving would become an increasingly important issue in the next five years, and they were right. Caregivers are among the unsung heroes who are getting us through the pandemic. For many, caregiving is an act of love and compassion. Still, working caregivers sacrifice a lot of time and energy, and often don’t identify as caregivers or recognize when they’re suffering from burnout.
In honor of National Family Caregiver Month, we want to acknowledge and say THANK YOU to all those with caregiving responsibilities—whether that’s caring for an adult or navigating the challenges of virtual school. And the Business Group community wants to elevate the conversation on how employers can care for working caregivers during the pandemic and beyond.
In the Business Group’s most recent podcast The Case for Honoring Caregivers caregiving crusader Alex Drane explains, “We really need to expand the definition of health to include life, because when life goes wrong health goes wrong.” Alex shares that since the pandemic started 56% of unpaid caregivers are experiencing anxiety or depression (2.5x the rate of the general population), and caregivers have 10x the rate of suicidal ideation. And caregiving today, which impacts 1 in 4 millennials and 1 in 5 Gen Xers, is undermining financial well-being. Caregivers are leaving the workforce, reducing their work hours and not taking promotions which could have long-term economic impacts, disproportionately for women.
It doesn’t have to be this way. So what can employers do?
- Break the silence and send a clear message that your company supports caregivers—fathers and male caregivers may particularly benefit from hearing that they have their company’s support in supporting their loved ones
- Provide a concierge/navigation benefit that addresses the root causes of caregiver stress (e.g., finding safe and affordable care, coordinating with insurance, assisting with legal needs and financial needs)
- Give employees the gift of time away through leave and flexibilities
- Establish a parent and/or caregiver employee resource group to give employees space to support each other and a network your company can tap into to understand and address caregiver needs
- Coordinate with vendors to expand offerings and/or increase awareness of available services
For more ideas and employer practices, check out these Business Group resources:
- Support Working Parents When School Starts During a Pandemic
- Quick Survey Findings: Supporting Employees with School-Aged Children During the Pandemic
- Employer Role in Supporting Working Caregivers During COVID-19 Pandemic
- Employer Role in Supporting Working Parents During COVID-19 Pandemic