You’ve maybe heard before that 1 in 5 working adults serve as family caregivers, and that 20 million individuals become new caregivers each year. But did you know that an estimated 50% of people caring for a loved one don’t identify with the term “caregiver”?
For some, it’s a term more closely associated with paid health professionals. For many others who provide care, they simply think of themselves as being a good daughter, a good partner, a good parent, and don’t recognize their role as a caregiver. They take on the same responsibilities as those who do self-identify as caregivers — and experience the same stress — but they either aren’t aware there’s help available for them or don’t think they can/should ask for help.
Of those who do identify with the term “caregiver,” 44% say their employer isn’t aware of their care situation. There are a variety of reasons one may choose not to disclose, but stigma around caregiving often plays a role. Ultimately, these self-identification and stigma issues are a barrier to employees getting the support they need, even when their employer offers fantastic programs and benefits.
Employers, National Family Caregivers Month is a great time to create conversations about caregiving within your organization and spotlight the things you’re doing to support the caregivers in your workforce.
The more we shed light on the work of unpaid family caregivers, the more employees will start to recognize and embrace themselves in that role. Sharing employee caregiver stories, especially of those who have found support, will normalize asking for help and make people feel safe to do so. And the more employees get the support they need to manage care responsibilities, the more engaged they can be in their work and their lives.
Here are five things employers and company leaders can do to lift up the voices of caregivers this November:
- Link your support of caregivers to your company’s mission, goals and culture Let your employees (and the world) know how much you value caregiving employees and why supporting caregivers is important to your company’s mission, goals, and culture.
- Highlight employee benefit offerings that are especially helpful to caregivers. National Family Caregivers Month is a great time to educate your employees on the benefits that can help them in their caregiving roles (present or future), including legal benefits, caregiving concierge, backup care, mental health, wellbeing stipends, and employee assistance programs.
- Make these benefits come alive. Share stories and examples of how employees have found support from your caregiving resources. Hearing stories from others with family care challenges builds a culture that normalizes caregiving and encourages benefits utilization.
- Celebrate your caregiving employees. Caregivers make some of the best employees. Don’t just focus on raising awareness for the challenges caregivers face, acknowledge the special skills and resiliency that one gains from a caregiving experience: negotiation, communication, attention to detail, work ethic, decision-making, compassion, and more.
- Encourage senior leaders to share their personal caregiving stories. This type of vulnerability from senior leaders helps build trust and fosters an empathetic workplace. Seeing leadership be open about their experiences of caregiving and working empowers employees to feel that they can talk about it too — and ask for help when they need it.
If you’re looking for more ways to join the National Family Caregivers Month conversation, check out our toolkit!