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Communication Tips for Employee Eldercare Situations

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May 31, 2017

As an employer, you may feel that your employee's personal life is just that – private. But if your staffer is a family caregiver, it could be helpful to know what they are facing.

Majorities of respondents in a survey conducted by Home Instead, Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead Senior Care® network, report caring for an older adult has put a strain on multiple aspects of their lives including:

  • Finances (60 percent)
  • Physical and mental health (74 percent and 81 percent, respectively)
  • Career (65 percent)
  • Ability to manage work-life balance (83 percent)

"You can't solve a problem if you don't know what it is," said Ellen Galinsky, senior research advisor for SHRM (the Society for Human Resource Management).  Providing answers then becomes an easier proposition.

"Perhaps employees have long commutes and working from home could give them flexibility to attend doctor's appointments. Or they may need to be connected to community resources they didn't know about. People so appreciate being asked by their employer what they need. The solution doesn't always need to involve money or expensive company changes. The thing that people tend to want most often is more time and flexibility."

You'll never know if you don't ask! Following, from ReACT (Respect a Caregiver's Time) and AARP, are tips on creating a supportive environment for open communication:

Straight Talk: Start by simply opening the door to the conversation. Research shows that more than one in six American employees also are caregivers, and 28 percent of those caring for an aging parent, relative or friend report their employers are unaware of their caregiving situation.

Reframe the Conversation: Add in a question during your employee's evaluations or one-on-one meetings that discuss their responsibilities outside the office. Many times caregivers do not identify themselves as caregivers; by asking this question you are not only opening up avenues to help them, you are helping them to see they are, in fact, a caregiver.

Create an Open-Door Policy: Let your employees know you are there for them to talk about their needs. This type of support could increase employee productivity and commitment to the organization.

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