Working Caregivers are very often hidden in plain sight. They keep the stress and worry of managing career and caring for a loved one to themselves for fear of their situation negatively impacting their work and income. We did a survey and asked working caregivers what they wish their employers knew about them, here are the results.
Caregivers care very much about their jobs.
Most have spent a great deal of time, energy and resources to build a career that they enjoy and value. They want to do well and take advantage of opportunities to grow and advance in their field and within the company that employs them. They feel proud when they succeed at goals set out by the company and that they have set for themselves. They want to show up at work without distractions and to stay focused on the tasks that will make the company successful. One working caregiver shared “I want to leave the workday feeling like I gave it my all and satisfied with what I accomplished.”
Caregivers wish they could share more about the stress of caregiving with their supervisor.
Many working caregivers feel guilty about keeping their role of caregiver and how much it impacts them, to themselves. It is something that adds to their stress but they worry they will be reprimanded, terminated, or passed over for promotions if they are completely honest about the impact being a caregiver has on their work and life. They don’t think their employer will understand how challenging it is and that they feel they have no choice in assisting their loved one with care needs. All of the caregivers surveyed said their workplace does not talk about the impact of caregiving nor offer any assistance or services to caregiving employees.
They need more flexibility from their employer.
Many caregivers said there are components of their job that could be done remotely and that it would help them tremendously to be offered more flexibility regarding where and when they work even some of the time. They don’t think their supervisor or employer understands the amount of time they spend taking their loved one to appointments or managing other care needs. They could better balance this with work if they are allowed to work outside normal business hours and wouldn’t need to take as much paid time off to do so which would benefit their employer as well.
They don’t feel that being a caregiver is optional.
Every caregiver that responded said they have no choice in the role and that they believe not taking on these responsibilities would result in too negative a consequence for them to live with. Many stated their loved one’s life would be in danger if they weren’t assisting with care. This poses a very difficult and stressful challenge when they care very much about their career but also have great love and respect for the person they are caring for. Imagine having to make such a choice. Working caregivers do this every day and at an alarmingly growing rate. They are not willing to watch people that they love suffer or fall through the cracks but they also value a career they have worked hard to build and that provides them financial stability so they do their best to manage both.
Caregiving has a toll on their financial situation.
Almost universally, caregivers stated they utilize their own funds to assist the person they are caring for. A Northwest Mutual C.A.R.E. Study found that 68% of family caregivers provide financial support to their loved one.
This makes the need for them to continue working and even advancing even more important and adds to their stress. 32% have reduced or stopped contributions to savings and 21% have even borrowed money to pay for care needs. As an example, the cost of hiring a non-medical care provider to assist with basics like meal preparation, running errands or medication management can cost between $800-$4000 per month and these services are typically not covered by Medicare or insurance. This is a major reason why many family caregivers try to manage these tasks themselves. These costs are most often unexpected because they aren’t discussed as caregivers keep quiet about their role and challenges. They would welcome education from their employer on how to better manage the challenges of caregiving before they even find themselves in the role.
There are many things employers can do to support working caregivers. They can begin simply by acknowledging many of their employees are struggling with the challenges of their role and create a culture where open dialogue is welcome and encouraged. They can go a step further by finding out how many of their employees are facing these challenges and create a comprehensive strategy that helps their valuable employees and benefits them as well.