How Can Employers Support Employee Caregivers?

The COVID-19 pandemic has tasked employees across the U.S. with additional caregiving responsibilities in addition to their usual workload. When employees struggle to balance their work duties with personal responsibilities such as caring for children, aging and/or disabled family members in addition to virtual learning, it can really decrease employee productivity and increase the probability of burnout.

There are a number of services that employers can offer to help ease this stress, including employee assistance programs (EAPs), flexible work schedules or legal assistance. However, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), simply providing these services might not be enough. SHRM cited a recent Bank of America Survey, which found that “while 88% of the surveyed employers offer some type of caregiving resources, 71% of workers are unaware of these offerings, and just 34% have taken advantage of them.” 

To combat this response, SHRM recommends training managers to understand caregiving and its responsibilities. They also recommend letting your employees and managers know what benefits your organization offers for caregiving. Examples may include:

  • Legal assistance, as a voluntary benefit, that an employee caring for an older or disabled relative can use to help with many services including estate planning, guardianship, living wills, medical directives and obtaining power of attorney.
  • EAPs can often help with referral services for child care or elder care, on top of general mental health services
  • Providing “returnships” – flexible work arrangements which can help to bring new parents or employee caregivers back into the fold after spending time away from their work.

At present, only 56% of caregivers report that their work supervisor is aware of their caregiving responsibilities says the Family Caregiver Alliance. Some fear that their employer would take an adverse action against them, while a survey from the Transamerican Institute reported that 28% of employees had that happen to them. When looking at employees during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, it’s important for employers to consider that employees play a role in nontraditional family arrangements and to be supportive whenever possible.

If you’re an employer looking for ways to support employee caregivers, Rose & Kiernan, Inc. is happy to help. Contact the Employee Benefits Management Group (EBMG) here or by calling (800) 242-4433.

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