When managers and executives think about the greatest hindrances to their employee’s productivity, they typically look to poor time management, communication, job fit, or other operational concerns.
However, they almost always neglect a critical source of both inefficiency and mental strain on their employees—being an employee caregiver. HandsFree Health understands the delicate balance between meeting career and caregiving responsibilities, and has solutions that can make everyone’s lives less stressful and more efficient.
The Problems Facing Employee Caregivers
Employee caregivers balance a professional career and caring for a loved one with a disability, declining health, or other needs. Today in the U.S., it’s estimated there are 53 million family caregivers, more than half of whom also have a full-time professional career.
Many people take on the role of caregiver because their loved one does not want to—or cannot—live in a nursing home or other assisted living community. Surveys indicate that 93.5% of senior citizens prefer to “age in place,” or remain at home as they get older, even if it means making changes to their home or lifestyle. For employees who have older relatives they need to care for, this preference adds additional responsibilities to an already busy schedule.
Some people are able to age in place with the help of home health care or other in-home assistance. But that’s not an ideal arrangement for everyone. And sometimes, even when your employees hire someone to help out, there is no guarantee that those being cared for would accept outside help.
Caregivers Syndrome and Your Team
Although most family caregivers willingly accept their role, that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Often, the extra demands on their time, not to mention the emotional toll that caregiving can take, can lead to physical and emotional challenges.
Those physical and emotional challenges often manifest themselves in inefficiency at the workplace. After all, if an employee is on call for a struggling parent’s health, it is unreasonable to expect them to physically be able to perform their best at work.
Even outside of the workplace, being an employee caregiver can take its toll. From mental to physical illness, also known as caregivers syndrome, being an unassisted employee caregiver is not a sustainable way of life. In fact, intensely caring for someone for an extended period can contribute to depression, anxiety, anger, and other feelings that can interfere with overall well-being.
Not only does caregivers syndrome affect your employees physically and emotionally, but it can also cost your business money. Whether they don’t have time or are physically unable to perform their jobs to the best of their ability, employee caregivers cost their employers at least 8% more than non-caregivers.
How to Help Your Employee Caregivers
Today’s fast-paced, competitive business environment leaves many people unwilling to discuss their caregiving responsibilities at work because they do not want to seem unfit for their role. However, caring for a loved one is a reality for many people, so as an employer, it’s in your best interest to create a culture that supports caregivers and the challenges they face.
When employers support their employee caregivers, both parties benefit. Supportive workplaces experience:
- Increased productivity
- Reduced costs
- Lowered absenteeism
- Improved retention
Support that goes above and beyond makes employees feel like they are invested in them, their health, and their lives outside of work. Therefore, finding ways to support employee caregivers is essential to developing a healthy employee-employer relationship and an efficient workplace.
Creating a Workplace Support System
As is the case with many problems, the first step is to raise awareness. Research the struggles that caregivers face and provide communications and training for your employees so that everyone understands what being an employee caregiver means. Develop a culture that treats caregiving with the same weight as other programs such as maternity leave.
Creating an employee network group of people who are going through similar experiences can help provide comfort and support. Create space where your team can share advice, lean on one another, and vent their concerns to others facing similar challenges.
Finally, connect your employees to resources that help them with their caregiving. For example, offering devices like the WellBe Virtual Health Assistant devices allow your employees to focus on work during work hours, while continuing to stay in touch with and monitor their loved one.
Some of the helpful elements of the system include:
- Virtual assistant app
- Caregiver notifications
- Medication reminders
- Emergency alerts
By providing updates and reminders, the WellBe Virtual Health Assistant devices allow your employees to care for loved ones home while also performing their best at work. They keep your employees informed, organized, and supported at all times. If you want to take the first step towards helping your employee caregivers, click here to request a demo.