Caregiver Support – Success Tips for Speaking to Your Employer
Guest article by Larry Nisenson
As America continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic, 41.8 million family caregivers are struggling more than ever to cope with the emotional, physical and financial challenges posed by caring for aging loved ones – creating a new “Caregiver Career Crisis.”
In fact, Genworth’s recent Caregiving in COVID-19: Consumer Sentiment Survey found that 1 in 3 adults unexpectedly had to spend more time taking care of loved ones, and 18% of them are caring for a loved one who is either older or in a vulnerable health category.
While initiating a conversation with your employer regarding caregiving needs can be daunting, there are practical tips and techniques you can use to help get the support you need.
Do Your Homework
Before talking to your employer, be sure to know the basic facts including Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) policies, vacation time, personal time, accrued time and carry-over time. If possible, ask other caregiver colleagues about any work-related resources they may utilize to ensure your expectations are realistic.
Set the Stage
Prepare a short explanation of your situation. Cover the reason you are caregiving, what your responsibilities entail and why you need help. Make your manager or human resources representative aware of what compromises or efforts you have already made to make your circumstances practicable; this helps ensure your employer understands your willingness to collaborate with them toward a workable solution.
Despite the highly emotional circumstances, it is important to do your best to leave your emotions at the door during this talk and be ready to educate your audience in a professional, objective manner.
Inquire about available resources and accommodations. These might include adult day services, flexible hours, remote work, employee assistance programs, internal support groups, and reimbursable elder care services, to mention a few. Some employers are now offering caregiver support as part of their benefits package. For example, Caregiver Support Services from CareScout® is a dedicated benefit that employers can offer their employees to help ease the stress of caregiving and make it easier for them to find the right care for their aging loved ones.
Highlight the Win-Win
Discuss how your employer will benefit. Chances are your caregiving has had negative consequences on your daily work. Communicate that your objective is to improve job performance, reduce absences and minimize stress that might carry into the workplace. In short, you are an asset that can be strengthened with employer support.
Present Your Solution
Have a suggested solution at the ready. Invest the time to create a detailed, practical plan that concisely outlines your ideal support scenario. Practice presenting the plan in a positive, productive and interactive way. Close by thanking your employer for listening and working with you to find a mutually beneficial resolution – and be prepared to answer any subsequent questions.
Although mastering the work-life balance for caregivers might seem insurmountable, the good news is a variety of support mechanisms are available to help you and your family successfully develop a smart plan of action.
Larry Nisenson is the Senior Vice President, Chief Commercial Officer for Genworth U.S. Life Insurance Segment, including CareScout® Caregiver Support Services, an innovative program designed to provide expert guidance and personal support for those struggling to find the right help for their loved one.