Half of working female caregivers feel they have to choose between being a good employee and being a good daughter, according to a new survey by Home Instead, Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead Senior Care® network. In addition, one quarter (25 percent) of daughters find there is a workplace stigma in being a caregiver, and 23 percent believe their supervisor is unsympathetic. "We are only scratching the surface of the impact gender parity in aging," explained Paul Hogan, founder and chairman of Home Instead Senior Care, Inc., at the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) Conference in New Orleans held this summer. "Not only are women more likely to get Alzheimer's disease or other dementias, but they are overwhelmingly the main caregivers for aging parents. And we are seeing this gender parity in aging is intersecting with gender parity in the workplace." According to SHRM, working female caregivers spend on average approximately 60 percent more time caring for aging loved ones, compared to their male counterparts (9.1 hours a week vs. 5.7 hours). Furthermore, research from Home Instead® shows that women are twice as likely as men to spend more than 30 hours a week on caregiving, as many women are a part of the sandwich generation – caring for an aging parent or relative while also caring for their own children. All this time can have consequences at work for those who are lacking employer support. According to the Home Instead survey, approximately one in ten working daughters report that their jobs are at risk. In that same survey, 91percent of female caregivers report having had to take action to accommodate being an employee and a caregiver. The most common actions include taking paid time off, switching from full time to part time, avoiding certain responsibilities and turning down promotions. "While it has been good to see the national dialogue about the need for women to 'lean in' to their careers as they become mothers, now it's time for us to begin discussing how women can do the same as a daughter," says Jisella Dolan, chief advocacy officer at Home Instead. "And while not every working woman will be a mother, most will experience caring for a parent as a daughter." To help employers foster more supportive work environments for employees who are caregivers for an aging family member, today at the SHRM Annual Conference Paul introduced the Caregiver Friendly Business Practices: 1. Empower employees to ask for what they need
Guilt often prevents employees from asking in the first place. And employers lose good employees when they just quit because they think there is no other option.
2. Have a policy … to be flexible (and human) when needed
Ensure managers are trained – and empowered – to demonstrate empathy and to think outside the box when the work-family policy just can't apply.
3. Have a back-up plan
Employees can't always give a heads-up before a caregiving needs occurs, which is why employers should begin putting back-up plans in place to ensure assistance is at-the-ready. This back-up plan can be scalable to the company size – from enacting the same principles as many large companies do for maternity leave for caregiving leave, to small businesses considering partnering with other local businesses to cross-train employees so you have more support during employee caregiving emergencies.
Large companies already make this happen with maternity leave. Apply the same principles to caregiving leave.
4. Offer support
For large businesses, this may be an Employee Assistance Program that can help find home care, assisted living or hospice resources. For small businesses, this may be a list of local providers and information on local resources.
For all businesses, this simply may be listening and/or connecting employees who may have experience with this personal situation.
5. Respect caregiving needs
Employers must give caregiving for parents the same weight and flexibility as caring for children. This means including caregiving for parents in any language outlining family-leave policies. While women make up two-thirds of family caregivers, these practices that employers must adopt to be more caregiver friendly, as well as other resources, are gender-neutral.
A website, DaughtersintheWorkplace.com, includes an interactive quiz that helps educate the adult children of aging parents about the protected family-leave rights that may be available to them. Additionally, the website includes conversation starters and health tips for working caregivers, as well as communication tips for employers and signs caregiving employees need support. "Unfortunately, many family caregivers often don't even realize the benefits they are eligible to receive from their employers," explained Drew Holzapfel, ReACT (Respect a Caregiver's Time) convener. "Working caregivers might not know they can use FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) for senior care, or they might not know how to access their EAP (Employee Assistance Program). Flex time may also have a stigma to these employees." While these employers are leading the efforts for more caregiver support in the workplace, there is still much to be done for the more than 34 million family caregivers caring for aging loved ones in the United States. Family caregivers and employers can view program resources and tips at www.DaughtersintheWorkplace.com. Or, contact your local Home Instead Senior Care office for additional resources and to learn how their professional CAREGiversSM may be able to assist.
Home Instead offers free monthly newsletters with tips and advice for caregivers of elderly loved ones.
Each Home Instead Senior Care franchise is independently owned and operated.