Balancing caregiving and working is no easy feat. Here’s how organizations are stepping in to help employees manage it all.
A record number of women left their careers – voluntarily and otherwise – during the pandemic. The number quoted by the Census Bureau is roughly 3.5 million. And, despite hiring nearing an all-time high, some women still struggle to reenter the workforce as caregiving duties continue to pull them away. The pandemic is shedding light on many issues – one of them being the need for caregiving policies for workers.
While it has been more widely discussed over the past year, action still needs to be taken to alleviate the issues. Employers can, in part, reduce the stressors placed on caregivers trying to balance it all.
There are many policies companies can implement to support caregivers, like unlimited or increased paid time off (PTO) or the opportunity to work remotely, and companies are adopting these types of benefits. In fact, the talent market is demanding it. Workers know they have employment options, and they are prioritizing time with their families over their household’s bottom line. According to a study by Joblist, 30% of workers would be willing to give up income for a better work-life balance. Especially for those with caregiving duties, eliminating stress is of utmost importance.
Employers who need experienced, loyal talent should heed the market’s demands and make these benefits accessible to all workers. Current employees will not only appreciate it, but the benefits will give organizations a boost to their employment brand. Word travels fast when a company truly stands behind its employees – and in a candidate-driven market, it might be the difference between successfully filling a position or not.
But only a culture of care at work will make employees feel comfortable using the benefits. It’s not just the ability to work from anywhere or the opportunity to condense the workweek, but also an understanding that using these options won’t make co-workers or senior executives look at you any differently. This can be engrained in an organization through leading by example – from the top down. Modeling behaviors that set boundaries (like out-of-office notifications when you’re away from your desk or scheduling work-related social events during lunch hour instead of after-hours) show employees respect for their work-life balance and caregiving commitments.
Another way employers may offer support is by providing resources for employees who don’t know where to go for help. This might mean giving employees access to eldercare planning and advisory services or providing lactation support or adoption benefits. Having an employee resource group for caregivers and/or parents can help employees feel like they’re not alone. It provides a safe space at work for employees to come together around a common experience to effect change in the workplace and create a compassionate environment.
Supporting career transitions that caregivers might have to make will put current employees at ease and attract new talent to an organization. If you’re job hunting, look for phased return-to-work plans or returnships that provide the opportunity for talent to get reacquainted with work again and adjust at their own pace. Additionally, mentorship programs that pair workers who are in similar situations create an openness around the issue and provide comfort to those who are struggling.
Sources:aarp.org; forbes.com; joblist.com; shrm.org; aarp.org; npr.org; shrm.org; firstly.com; pbs.org; apnews.com; cnbc.com; congress.gov; wsj.com; longevity.stanford.edu