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How to manage caregiving while working

For individuals in caregiving roles, the combined pressures of work and home can become overwhelming. Support from employers can make all the difference.

Taking on a caregiving role for family members can be a taxing responsibility at any age or career level. However, Gen Xers, often dubbed the sandwich generation, are considered hardest hit as they’re in their peak caregiving years. More than half of Gen X workers are caregivers and the number is expected to grow, according to a recent MetLife study. They still have children living under their roof and increasingly find themselves caring for aging parents. In fact, according to a report by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, an estimated 42 million people in the U.S. provide unpaid care to those 50 and older, a 14% increase since 2015.

Mental wellness has taken a big hit, as caregivers report anxiety, depression and PTSD at rates much higher than those without caregiving roles. The financial impact on the caregiver is significant as well. According to a study by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC), 78% of family caregivers incur out-of-pocket costs caring for a loved one.

What do caregivers need?

If you’re not a caregiver yourself yet, you may still be in a position to effect change on their behalf. Companies will find their employees have unique needs. Encourage management to add caregiving questions to regular employee engagement or pulse surveys to gain further insight into what the workforce feels would be helpful. The caregivers in your organization should guide what caregiving policies to put in place. Encourage them to come to the table with ideas that would support their situation. Candidness in discussing the matter will ensure you’re on the right track to supporting valuable talent.

But there is still a stigma felt by employees regarding openly talking about responsibilities that take their attention away from work (especially by millennials, who are less likely to report their caregiving commitments to a supervisor). According to The Caring Company report, only 24% of employers surveyed said caregiving influenced their performance, while more than 80% of employees with caregiving responsibilities said caregiving did, in fact, affect their ability to perform at their best. To boot, a third of employees surveyed said they’ve left a job due to caregiving obligations.

Honest dialogue in the workplace is a starting point that will help move caregiver – and employee – wellness in the right direction.

Congress might be providing some financial relief to unpaid family caregivers in the near future as it introduced The Credit for Caring Act this year. It’s a tax credit of up to $5,000 for working family caregivers. This would be a small step toward alleviating the myriad of pressures employees feel trying to balance working and caregiving.

Next steps

If you’re struggling to balance working and caregiving, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Here’s how:

  • Tell your direct supervisor and HR business partner what your caregiving responsibilities entail so they can offer support, like flexible schedules or remote working.
  • If your company has employee resource groups for caregivers or parents, join up! You’ll build relationships with others in your position.
  • If you’re able, consider hiring help to take some of the responsibilities off your plate. Could you outsource grocery shopping or cleaning every week to free up time for yourself?


aarp.org; forbes.com; joblist.com; shrm.org; aarp.org; npr.org; shrm.org; firstly.com; pbs.org; apnews.com; cnbc.com; congress.gov; wsj.com; longevity.stanford.edu