The coronavirus pandemic has intensified the already challenging task of juggling caregiving and a career. To help overwhelmed family caregivers, CareScout® shares 6 practical tips for getting more support from your employer.
As America continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic, the economic, healthcare and personal challenges surrounding the nation’s already serious Family Caregiver Crisis have intensified.
Genworth’s recent Caregiving in COVID-19: Consumer Sentiment Survey found that 1 in 3 adults unexpectedly had to spend more time taking care of loved ones and that 18% of them are caring for someone who is either older or in a vulnerable health category.
Now more than ever, our 41.8 million family caregivers are struggling to cope with the emotional, physical, and financial challenges posed by caring for aging loved ones – creating a new “Caregiver Career Crisis.”
To show that you’re not alone in these struggles, we share survey results from caregivers across the U.S.
And to make it easier to juggle caregiving and your career, we share 6 practical tips for getting more support from your employer.
Career challenges have increased for family caregivers
The National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP Caregiving in the U.S. 2020 study’s findings show a serious communication gap between employers and caregivers that affects both groups.
Employers might not be aware of the increased burden on family members, often in unrecognizable ways.
Caregiver physical and fiscal health is suffering.
In addition, 61% of caregivers say that helping loved ones has impacted their employment situation.
53% of caregivers working outside the home reported going in late, leaving early, or taking time off to accommodate care. Worse still, 6% have had to give up work entirely and another 5% retired early.
6 practical tips for getting employer support
Some caregivers are reluctant to speak with their employers. In the study, only 53% said that their supervisor was aware of their caregiving responsibilities.
While starting a conversation with your employer regarding caregiving needs can be scary, there are practical tips that can help you get the support you need.
1. Do your homework
Before talking to your employer, understand the basic facts including Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) policies, vacation time, personal time, accrued time, and carry-over time.
If possible, ask other caregiver colleagues about any work-related resources they’ve been using to check if your expectations are realistic.
2. Set the stage
Prepare for the conversation by writing down a short explanation of your situation.
Include the reason you are caregiving, what your responsibilities are, and why you need help from your employer.
Also be sure to tell your manager or human resources representative what compromises or extra efforts you’ve already made to make the current situation work as well as possible.
This helps your employer understand that you’re willing to work with them toward a better solution.
3. Stay professional
Despite the highly emotional circumstances, it is important to do your best to leave your emotions at the door during this talk.
Mentally prepare yourself to speak in a professional, objective manner. Rehearsing what you’ll say ahead of time can help reduce the level of emotion.
4. Find out about available resources
Ask about resources and accommodations that are available to employees.
This might include flexible hours, remote work, employee assistance programs, internal caregiver support groups, adult day programs, reimbursable elder care services, and more.
Some employers are even offering caregiver support as part of their standard benefits package.
For example, Caregiver Support Services from CareScout® is a dedicated benefit that employers can offer to help ease the stress of caregiving for employees and make it easier for them to find the right care for their aging loved ones.
5. Discuss how your employer will benefit
Despite your best efforts, your caregiving responsibilities may have negatively impacted your work.
Communicate that your goal is to improve your job performance, reduce absences, and minimize stress that might carry into the workplace.
Show them that you’re an asset to the team that could perform better with a little more employer support.
6. Present your solution
Now that you’ve described the challenges, share your suggested solution to improve the situation.
Create a detailed, practical plan that briefly outlines your ideal support scenario.
Practice presenting the plan in a positive, productive, and interactive way.
End the discussion by thanking your employer for listening and working with you to find a solution that works for both of you – and be prepared to answer any follow-up questions.
Recommended for you:
- Senior Care During the Coronavirus Pandemic
- Caring for the Caregiver: 6 Ways to Get Help and Improve Your Health
- 7 Steps to Take When Aging Parents Need Help
Guest contributor: Larry Nisenson is Senior Vice President, Chief Commercial Officer for Genworth U.S. Life Insurance Segment and CareScout®. If your employer is interested in offering its employees Caregiver Support Services from CareScout, they can learn more by visiting www.carescout.com/benefit
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