Caregivers Stress

by James McDonough


Today’s multi-generational workforce is confronted with many challenges that blur the lines between work and home life. A major challenge for many employees is the role of being a caregiver to others. Typically the other person is a young child or an aging parent, but it could also be a spouse, a sibling or a neighbor. A Transamerica survey reveals these employees, whether full or part time, are experiencing a great deal of stress that may impact their work and their health. It also reveals that all generations, from Millennials to Matures, are impacted with caregiving challenges.

How should employers respond to employees struggling with care giving? Legally, the only requirement is for those employers who are covered by FMLA to extend leave to eligible employees. Otherwise, employers are under no obligation to assist. But in today’s workplace, where unemployment is low and employers rely on engaged, focused employees to achieve business goals, providing support to these employees makes good business sense. In fact the survey shows caregiving employees want help in these areas:

  • Stress management
  • Care giving tips
  • Community resources
  • Government assistance programs

Here are ways you can support your caregiving employees:

  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP): These assist employees in identifying many of the resources listed above.
  • Research: If you don’t offer an EAP, research these topics in your area and provide guidance to employees.
  • Flexible Scheduling: Caregiving often requires surprise doctor visits or other activities that may require the employee be away from work. As business needs allow, providing flexibility can go a long way toward reducing stress and anxiety for care givers.
  • Leave: If your organization is not covered by FMLA, consider drafting a leave policy to allow for caregiving absences. This provides structure and consistency to your employee’s requests, provides reasonable limits and shows you care.
  • Train: Supervisors can benefit from awareness and sensitivity training to support stressed employees. Employees who are caregivers can benefit from Wellness and Mindfulness seminars to manage stress. Financial and Benefits planning workshops support employee’s ability to manage the costs of care giving.

Employers Council members are encouraged to contact us for assistance with drafting policies and managing these and other challenging employee scenarios.

About the author
James McDonough

James McDonough, HR Research Consultant, consults with Employers Council members to provide guidance and support on their organizational practices. He writes articles, conducts presentations and trainings on HR compliance, organizational effectiveness and business management topics. A graduate of the University of Colorado-Boulder, James has worked in the public and private sectors in HR and business management.