In this issue:
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.
Gen Xers, often dubbed the sandwich generation, are hardest hit as they’re in their peak caregiving years. More than half of Gen X workers are caregivers and the number is expected to grow, according to a recent MetLife study. They still have children living under their roof and increasingly find themselves caring for aging parents. In fact, according to a report by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, an estimated 42 million people in the U.S. provide unpaid care to those 50 and older, a 14% increase since 2015.
Mental wellness has taken a big hit as caregivers report anxiety, depression and PTSD at rates much higher than those without caregiving roles. The financial impact on the caregiver is significant as well. According to a study by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving, 78% of family caregivers incur out-of-pocket costs caring for a loved one.
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 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 work week, 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) shows 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 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.
If you’re not a caregiver yourself, you may still be in a position to effect change on their behalf. Companies will find their employees have unique needs. Encourage management to add caregiving questions to regular employee engagement or pulse surveys to gain further insight into what the workforce feels would be helpful. The caregivers in your organization should guide what caregiving policies to put in place. Encourage them to come to the table with ideas that would support their situation. Candidness in discussing the matter will ensure you’re on the right track to supporting valuable talent.
But there is still a stigma felt by employees regarding openly talking about responsibilities that take their attention away from work (especially by millennials, who are less likely to report their caregiving commitments to a supervisor). According to a The Caring Company report, only 24% of employers surveyed said caregiving influenced their performance, while more than 80% of employees with caregiving responsibilities said caregiving did, in fact, affect their ability to perform at their best. To boot, a third of employees surveyed said they’ve left a job due to caregiving obligations.
Honest dialogue in the workplace is a starting point that will help move caregiver – and employee – wellness in the right direction.
If you’re struggling to balance working and caregiving, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Here’s how:
Thinking about starting a business with your other half? Sounds like a swell idea when you’re sitting on the couch together swapping daydreams. But there’s a lot to consider before you dive in. As if business ventures weren’t complicated enough, a professional partnership with your lifelong partner adds an element of complexity to the equation.
That being said, there are many couples who have built successful business empires. Think Chip and Joanna Gaines of the Magnolia empire or Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, who own a production company together.
Here are some do’s and don’ts as you embark on this adventure with your spouse.
Do discuss risk tolerance. Because both of you will be relying on income from the business, be sure you have the conversation about what type of risk you’re willing to take – and consider maintaining separate earnings records, employee benefits and personal after-tax assets. Speak to your advisor about what level of risk your financial situation can withstand as well. It might mean one of you keeps a full-time job for a bit while helping the other run the business on the side.
Don’t be afraid to disagree. Challenging each other may actually contribute to business success and continued innovation. That is, as long as you and your partner are good at conflict resolution. The more ideas, the better. From there, work through the options objectively and come to an agreeable resolution. If there are some aspects you don’t agree on, consider dividing responsibilities to conquer.
Do separate work and home life. It’s really exciting as you build an empire and experience success, but remember your relationship is more than just the business – so spend time together and avoid talking shop. Maybe it’s a hard stop at 6 p.m. every day so you can switch into home mode. If you run the business from home, it might mean keeping inventory in a specific room.
Don’t forget to give your partner praise. Joint success is what makes the business happen, but both parties should feel like they’ve made significant contributions. Celebrate your partner’s wins and cheer them on along the way. It’s easy to forget how important it is to actively support each other when you’re working and living – and everything – together.
Do have individual interests. Just as it’s important to take time away from the business together, it’s just as important to take time away from the business (and your spouse) for yourself. Consider personality differences in this equation, as someone who’s an extrovert might be fed by outings with friends while an introvert may need alone time with a book.
Don’t do it if you’re not having fun. Sure, you have to make money and support your family. After all, that’s why you’re in business! But you should be having fun while doing it. If the business is putting too much pressure on your relationship and affecting family life, it might not be the right situation for you. Be aware of how it’s going and recalibrate if necessary.
A business venture – with or without your spouse – is an exciting journey. Bringing in an advisor to partner with you on making smart financial decisions for you and your family can be helpful. That way you get to do what you love most and embark on your entrepreneurial dreams with less worry.
If you’re thinking about embarking on an entrepreneurial venture with your other half:
Live events are back in some form (and we’re here for it!). Think networking dinners, coffee meetups with prospects and professional conferences. Although we’ve been living in a mostly virtual world for a while now, your online presence might be overdue for a refresh. Most importantly, it should be authentically you and align with the brand you live in real life, the one you want to share with the world.
Sarah Blakely, founder and owner of Spanx, is a great example. If you scroll through her LinkedIn feed, you quickly get who she is and what she’s all about. From vacation pictures with her kids and throwbacks to when she first started Spanx to girl power tributes and #MondayMotivation posts, she’s unapologetically herself, and you feel like you know her by following her.
Attracting millions of followers is quite a feat, but here are some tips to freshen up your social media presence and stand out from the crowd.
Know your audience. If you want to be successful with building meaningful connections via social media, the most important consideration is to identify who you’re trying to reach. If you’re in a B2B sales role or are seeking a career change, LinkedIn might be where you should focus. However, if you’re an independent interior designer or wedding photographer, Instagram might better showcase your skills. Be where your target audience spends time.
Engagement is key. It’s not just about posting on your own accounts. Comment on posts to add value and repost industry information you feel passionate about. If you think about having genuine conversation online in the same way you engage in real life, you’ll get noticed. It can’t be a checkbox exercise because real, genuine dialogue builds true relationships.
A picture says a thousand words. Users are moving away from the ultra-polished headshot on LinkedIn – you know the one, stuffy suits and a stark white background – to a more approachable and authentic version. You still want to make sure the quality is good and you’re the only one featured, but an image that provides a glimpse into your personality (think genuine and candid) will speak volumes.
Pro tip: LinkedIn has a cover story option that allows you to explain who you are and what you do in a 30-second video clip. The option is only available on the app right now, but it allows your connections to get to know you better than words on your bio will. It provides the opportunity to be personable and engaging.
The most important aspect of revisiting any of your social media profiles is making sure they represent you accurately. After all, they set the tone for a future relationship you may build with your online connections. Thinking of your social media as an extension of yourself in real life will help you consider if it’s authentically you.
As you look to update your social media profiles …
Sources: Raymond James research; linkedin.com
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