What do you think of when you hear the word caregiver? Perhaps a parent taking care of their newborn? A child or an elderly individual taking care of their spouse? Apersonal support worker or nurse? It is a new reality that caregiving has become much broader in our society than it used to be. Caregivers are all around us – even in the workplace – and are likely some people you wouldn’t expect. Informal caregiving refers to unpaid care provided to a family member or friend due to chronic or long-term illness, disability and/or aging. The Canadian government estimates that there are 6.1 million employed Canadians who are informal caregivers to a family member or a friend – that’s 35% of the Canadian workforce! The Conference Board of Canada estimates informal caregiving costs employers $1.3 billions dollars in lost productivity a year!
We at L&L Consulting understand that many informal caregivers work extremely hard to balance their work, leisure, and care responsibilities. We also know the toll caregiving can take on an individual, and how this might impact workplace performance and participation. We have included some tips for employers and caregivers below and hope you find them helpful.
Tips for employers:
Communicate with your employees - touch base with your employees to learn about their needs. Many of the workplace mental health strategies we have recommended including surveys, flexible hours/scheduling, working from home, accessing available resources – are all helpful for informal caregivers
- Educate your managers and employees - education on how to take care of yourself and others, mental health and balancing all that life throws at you (check out MH101 and educational sessions)
- Offer reasonable and dignified solutions to accommodate employee caregivers
- Develop a policy/internal communication to inform all employees of your stance, clearly outline your expectations and the kind of support you can offer
- Be creative and flexible
- Follow up – check in with employees as needed, especially through accommodation periods, to ensure the strategies in place are effective for all parties
Tips for caregivers:
- Know that you are not alone
- Ask for the support your need with as much notice as possible
- Take care of yourself – make time for self-care, check out self-assessments and self-care tips
- Bring your accommodation needs forward in a clear and timely way
- Build a support system of colleagues, friends, family members
- Practice effective time management and plan ahead for the unexpected
We hope these tips and strategies are helpful. Would you like to learn about this topic? Let us know in the comments below or contact us for more information on how we can best support you!