How Can Companies Support Working Caregivers?
October is Working Caregivers Month, and perhaps you’re motivated to support the caregivers in your organization, but you’re not sure how to do so.
The first thing you’ll need to do is acknowledge you have working caregivers. Your workforce is complex, and hopefully very diverse. Your coworkers are caring for parents, children, loved ones who are sick — and that doesn’t go away when they open their laptops for the workday.
Once you’ve acknowledged that you work with caregivers, the next thing to do is to listen to them. Learn what their challenges are. Learn what’s keeping them up at night. Is it finding reliable childcare, or paying for it? Is it having the flexibility to coach their kid’s soccer team, or to support their parent at doctor visits? Whatever their challenges, really understanding your employees will help you to create a strategy to support them.
When creating that strategy, don’t be afraid of programs that will only be used by a portion of the workforce. First and foremost, you should be looking across the spectrum of your employees to create solutions and programs to meet them wherever they are. But some may need childcare support now, while others may not. Regardless, everyone will appreciate that you’re making the effort.
And I hope it goes without saying that you should offer paid leave and time off for your employees to support their families.
I myself am a mother of three, and if I hadn’t had paid leave for each of them, I would have lost out on about a year’s income. That income would have really hurt us economically and set my family back. And beyond that, it would have left me very unsatisfied with where I was working, and they would have lost me as an employee.
For me, as a business leader, it’s important to model the fact that I’m a working caregiver. And some days, I’m struggling. Some days, I need to take time off because someone’s sick, because I just need some space. Being able to talk about your experiences as a working caregiver and get support from others helps to create a culture of awareness and respect within your organization. When we model these behaviors as leaders, we normalize them.
So many parents have had to care for children that were (and, as outbreaks continue to crop up, are) unable able to go to school in-person. This effectively turned them all into teachers, despite having no training in doing so, not to mention a complete lack of time with everything going on. In my experience, getting up early every morning to print out homework and papers and set up my kids’ Zoom calls before jumping on my own calls so I could support my team was a huge weight on my shoulders. While I’ve been fortunate enough to have support from my team throughout the experience, so many caregivers do not.
As we think through the future of work, Ellevate Network is dedicated to furthering the momentum of support for the world’s many working caregivers. This means transparency and openness. It means providing the flexibility to modify hours or take time off as needed. It means checking in with your workforce and asking what they need to be successful. It means trusting your employees to understand their goals and what success looks like for them, and it means them trusting you to work with them to make that happen. Establishing that trust now will pay dividends, because when you and your team members trust one another, there’s nothing your organization can’t accomplish.
How are you stepping up for your company’s caregivers?
Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.
Kristy Wallace is the CEO of Ellevate Network, and is responsible for executing Ellevate Network’s mission to close the gender achievement gap in business by providing professional women with a global community to lean on and learn from. She directs the Network’s staff, is responsible for business growth and strategy, and works closely with Ellevate's Chapter Leaders, Business Partners, and Champions to further Ellevate's impact. Kristy is host of the Ellevate Podcast: Conversations with Women Changing... Continue Reading
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