Caregiving Tips


Caregiving conversation starters in the workplace

Caregiving touches the lives of nearly every family and employee. 

As caregiving advocate and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter once said so beautifully: "There are only four kinds of people in the world — those that have been caregivers, those that are caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers."

More than 70% of today's workforce identifies as a caregiver, yet talking about caregiving roles with managers and colleagues remains a hard conversation for many.

To help facilitate these caregiving conversations, here are some tips below that serve as examples of how you can start a dialogue with both your managers and peers. 


Employees often worry that discussing caregiving duties with their manager will change the perception of their commitment to their job. However, it’s important to be open with your manager early on about your caregiving duties before a crisis occurs.


Scenario: Establishing work boundaries while caring

Conversation starter: “My dad needs to spend a week in the hospital next month and as his primary caregiver, I need to be with him. I may need to work outside of business hours. Could I schedule some time to discuss this with you?” 


Scenario: Asking for a flexible start time

Conversation starter: “A flexible start time would help me ensure that my mother’s needs are covered each morning before I leave for work. I’ve started to outline how I can rearrange my day and still make sure I get all my work done on time. Can we talk through this plan together?”


Scenario: Requesting the option to work remotely

Conversation starter: “In order to help my daughter with special needs with daily tasks, I’m hoping we can do a trial run of me working from home 2 days per week. This flexibility would allow me to stress less about her and focus more on my work.”


It may be beneficial to disclose to your colleagues that you are caring for a loved one so they understand why you may miss meetings or work outside of business hours. Being upfront and setting expectations will help maintain trust and open communication.


Scenario: Discussing project changes with a colleague

Conversation starter: “Can I talk to you about some upcoming responsibilities that may affect how we work together to meet deadlines on this project?”

Scenario: Developing an action plan if you suddenly need to leave work

Conversation starter: “I have recently become the primary caregiver for my dad. I’d love to get your input on my action plan should I suddenly need to step away from work for an extended period of time.”

Scenario: Moving a recurring meeting that conflicts with a caregiving duty

Conversation starter: “Our usual Thursday morning meeting now conflicts with a regular appointment I have to take my son to. Can we move it? If not, I can provide any updates before the meeting each week.”

Scenario: Adjusting your daily working hours

Conversation starter: “Due to some responsibilities that have come up, I am going to be taking time off during the afternoon and make up hours in the evening. I have updated my calendar so you are aware.”