Moving your caregiving policies and programs forward
How do you go from the examples of what other organizations are doing to implementing your own policies and programs for employee caregivers? A lot depends on how developed your own set of caregiving policies are, currently.
Getting Started With Caregiving at Your Workplace
Your organization is just getting started with caregiving efforts. How should you begin?
MAKE THE BUSINESS CASE: Whenever you start a new initiative, it’s important to document how it will support business goals and benefit the organization. In addition, you want to demonstrate how the effort will help your employees to be more productive, engaged and less stressed. Gather this information and identify some champions who can help you to articulate the business case for providing caregiver supports at your organization. Focus on the metrics that will motivate your organization to take action, keeping in mind that not all metrics will be financial. Share the data with invested stakeholders to get the support that you need to move forward.
- Develop a data driven business plan that will “sell” caregiving policies and programs as an important business strategy for your organization.
- Consider how the effort could boost business goals that are not directly financial, such as recruitment and retention efforts, or brand recognition.
- Ask manager/supervisors if they have had situations where caregiving issues have interfered with job performance and affected retention. What supports could have improved the outcomes of these situations?
CUSTOMIZE FOR VARIOUS STAKEHOLDER GROUPS: You want to make sure that you design an effort to support employee caregivers that meets the needs of employees at all levels of the organization. Employees will have various caregiving needs depending on their situation, so consider a wide-range of caregiver supports.
- Gather data from a diverse group of employees on both current and anticipated needs. Ask employees “what could our organization do to help you with your caregiving responsibilities?”
- Form a diverse employee planning group to help shape the program elements and focus. Diverse teams tend to represent a breadth of perspective that can spark innovative ideas.
- Be inspired by – but don’t copy – what your competitor is doing! Implement supports that best meet the needs of your unique employee population and your business goals.
CAPITALIZE ON EXISTING EFFORTS: You may be able to expand your existing programs to include resources such as adding back-up eldercare to your existing back-up childcare program. You might want to inform employees that they can use flextime to take aging parents to medical appointments or to visit nursing homes.
- Assess how existing initiatives or programs could be expanded. Look at what you are already doing to enhance employee productivity and engagement with an eye towards how these resources/services could be enhanced for caregiving employees.
- Determine whether current staff is knowledgeable about caregiving issues. For example, does your EAP staff have expertise about eldercare concerns?
- EDUCATE: It’s important that employees are knowledgeable about caregiving and eldercare issues and their impact on individuals at the workplace, now and in the future. In addition, supervisors can play a critical role in informing employees about resources as well as sending the crucial message that employees will not be penalized if they access these resources or support.
- Educate employees on eldercare issues, in general and at your organization – what can they expect as caregivers? What resources does your organization provide to help? Emphasize the importance of self-care for effective caregiving and specify where they can get support if they are overwhelmed.
- Educate supervisors/managers on how supports can help their employees and the organization. Garner supervisor/manager support for these efforts to ensure that they will be utilized, and to create a supportive environment for employee caregivers.
Moving Forward with Caregiving Policies and Programs at Your Workplace
Your organization has some caregiving resources. How can you keep moving forward?
ASSESS AND MEASURE: It’s important to determine the success of your efforts to support caregivers to date, and continue to measure at regular intervals. You will want to know if employees have utilized your resources and if they are satisfied. You can examine if there is a missing element in your efforts or if additional resources or services could better support your caregiving employees. Conduct an employee survey to find out if all employees know about your resources. If not, consider ways to inform employees about resources such as during onboarding or employee training.
- Ask employee users about their satisfaction with your organization’s caregiving resources and if there are any areas of improvement.
- Benchmark to see what your competitors are doing. Is there something to be learned from their approach or programmatic offerings?
- Ensure that all employees, regardless of level or seniority, have access to your policies and programs and are comfortable using the resources.
- Evaluate current marketing and communication efforts to determine if they are sufficient and reaching all stakeholder groups.
DEVELOP SUPPORT AT ALL LEVELS OF THE ORGANIZATION: A program can only be successful if managers are aware of and supportive of their employees accessing caregiving resources. Some organizations include a rating of “supervisor supportiveness” in their supervisory performance reviews to communicate that this type of support is critical for an effective supervisor.
- Provide formal training for managers/supervisors with tips on how to support caregiving employees.
- Make sure that you have support at all levels of the organization – top leaders, managers/supervisors and employees in various roles.
CREATE A SUPPORTIVE ENVIRONMENT: Having resources for caregivers is one aspect of a successful program. In addition, you want to create a work environment where employees at all levels feel that they can utilize these resources without negative consequences or impact on their career.
- Destigmatize caregiving through education and information for all employees. Ensure that caregivers are not overlooked for promotions or opportunities due to their caregiving status.
- Build your “caregiver friendly” image through employee communications and other internal vehicles such as your company intranet or website.
Tweaking Your Caregiving Program to Solidify Success
Your organization has a full-fledged Caregiving program. How can you tweak it to solidify success?
ASSESS AND MEASURE ON A REGULAR BASIS: What success looks like will depend on the goals of your organization.
- Do the best that you can to measure the impact of your resources on employee health and wellbeing as well as on the business bottom line (recruitment, retention, productivity and engagement, absenteeism, presenteeism).
- Survey employee users to assess satisfaction and utilization. Ask those who haven’t used your resources, what are the barriers to doing so? Adjust your efforts accordingly.
GET THE WORD OUT: Now that your program is where you want it to be, let others know about your success. You may want to position your organization as a “caregiver friendly” employer to be known for your eldercare efforts in your industry and by job seekers.
- Apply for awards or “Best” lists.
- Publicize your achievements via press releases, annual reports and social media.
- Advertise your “caregiver friendly” environment during recruitment and retention efforts.
- Communicate and partner with external organizations to solidify your position as an eldercare leader.