Employers Benefit from Supporting Employed Caregivers

[ Logo Music Full ] [ Theme Music Full ] [Narrator:] While it’s important
that employers are aware of and understand the issues
of family caregivers in their workforce,
it’s critical for them to provide the kinds of support that will keep their employees
healthy and productive in order to reduce the staggering
costs of lost productivity. [Sue Hunter:] One of the
things we’ve done is, we have a weekly
bulletin, news bulletin, that comes out for our agency. We’ve provided information
in there like the Elder Care
Locator phone number. So if somebody doesn’t know
where to turn, there it is. We’ve provided articles
on caregiving issues in that newsletter as well. In addition, we’ve
provided classes that are over the noon hour so employees
can not miss out on work but get away for 45 minutes
or an hour to learn about how to get support for caregiving. We’ve advertised respite
care services for them. We’ve even provided a program. We did a four-part
education program at the end of the work day. So that started at 4:00 or
4:30 and went to 5:30 or 6:00, I think and then employees
could not miss any work, come at the end of their
day and get support as well as some education for their
caregiving situations. [Sue Hunter:] I think that what
I’d like employers to know is that without a lot of effort
on their part there are things that they could do that would
truly support their employees with caregiving issues. There are classes that could
be brought into the work place by a few simple contacts
with your aging community to bring those resources in. There are flexibility in
policies that could be provided that would provide employees
a lot of room to attend to the people they
are caregiving for. So without lots of effort
on the part of the employer, you can provide a
lot to employees that would really help them
to manage both their work and their caregiving issues. So it really makes sense
for us to provide the tools so we can keep those people in our workplace as
long as possible. It’s very costly to
replace employees. And in many cases we don’t
even have that flexibility to replace employees anymore. With the downsizing
of the workforce, if an employee leaves,
they might not be replaced. So we want to keep them in the
workplace as long as possible. Some of our best trained, most knowledgeable employees
are the ones who are older, who are having caregiving
issues. And if they leave, a lot of
knowledge walks out the door. [Sonja:] I wanted to
talk to you a little bit about the challenges
that I’m having. [Narrator:] Zach is the
human resources manager for a medium-sized
insurance business. [Zach Penshorn:]
People are who we have. People is all we have
in terms of what we do. People is the differentiator
of what we do. And it’s how we treat our
employees that is going to impact their performance
with our customers. But I think if we show
commitment to our employees and in this manner in
the form of caregivers and supporting them, we
get commitment in return. And if we’re able to extend a
hand, show them we are willing to help, we’re willing to get
creative to find a solution that is going to help them in
their time of need and is going to help us to be able to
continue to serve our customers and do the work that
we need to do, it’s going to create
a win-win situation. But it potentially creates
even longer term benefits because the employee remembers
that, in my biggest time of need, the employer
was here to help me. [Zach Penshorn:] We do a lot of
different things to help support that message, to
send that message. We do training for our managers
to help them be prepared in different situations. Our managers are
often the conduit, the link between the
employee and the company. And it’s in their day-to-day
interactions and conversations when life issues come out. And when that life
issue comes out, it’s how we respond to that. Is it, oooh? Or is it, I’d like to
lend a helping hand. I’d like to find
out more about that. What can we do to support? How can we help? I think each situation in how
we provide for a caregiver needs to be unique and that
there’s no one size fits all or this is our program. And I think that’s
where it allows us to provide a win-win
situation for our employees is when we understand
their specific needs and we identify the solution
specifically for them. [Jeff Carroll:] Well Diane
it’s nice to see you again… [Narrator:] Jeff is the director of an employee assistance
program for a state agency. [Jeff Carroll:] I do believe
employers have certain responsibilities to provide
support for caregivers. So those responsibilities
would lie in the area of they have a legal
responsibility regarding the Family Medical & Leave Act. They also have an ethical
responsibility to show that they care about the
wellbeing of their employees. It’s also responsibility based
on smart business practice so that if they have
a reasonable response to someone’s request for
let’s say a flexible schedule or something so they can still
get their job done but also care for their family member
or other responsibility, then they have a happier and
more productive employee. And I feel there is a culture
of wanting to work with people to keep them productive and
happy and therefore try to work with them, particularly in
terms of flexible scheduling. And that’s a more informal
arrangement between a supervisor and an employee, so
shifting their work hours. [Jeff Carroll:] I think it’s in
the best interest of employers to provide as much
assistance as they can within a reasonable
limit to caregivers because it’s the humane
thing to do for one thing. But secondly, from a
business perspective if you have a productive
employee it’s much better to retain that person and
to try to work with them within the short term personal
issue that they’re dealing with as a caregiver, than
to lose that good employee. And in the long run
it’s more cost effective to retain a valued employee
than to go out and try to hire and train a new employee
into a position. [ Music ]

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