Talking to Your Employer about Your Family Caregiving Duties

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When you’re invested in your career, climbing the corporate ladder, spending the majority of your time and energy on the job or regularly obligated to meet a long list of professional demands, you may run into obstacles when it comes to addressing the situation occurring in your personal life. As we discussed in our millennial caregiver post, wearing multiple hats and managing dueling responsibilities can be stressful and overwhelming. You may often wonder: should I even bother to let my boss know that I’m a caregiver? The answer should always be yes, but you have to decide whether or not it’s right for you given your personal situation. If you do decide to share this part of your life with your employer, then it’s best to prepare a plan for how to frame the conversation.

Why should I tell my boss I’m a family caregiver?

According to Forbes, it’s important to speak openly and to initiate a constructive dialogue with your boss. The reality of the matter is that, statistically, 1 in 5 people is a family caregiver; and relying on strength in numbers and the support system that you may not even know exists at your place of employment can be a solid place to lay a foundation.

So how do I actually approach the subject?

The more you let the anxiety build, the more difficult it will be to engage in an open and honest communication with your superior. Here are some tips for how you can prepare:

  • Request a meeting with your boss so that you have dedicated time set aside to chat.

  • Think about what you want to say ahead of time, write down notes and don’t be afraid to bring them with you.

  • Be as forthcoming with your caregiving role as you can and explain how it impacts your work-life balance.

  • Identify and explain how you’ve tried to create a balance between the two; describe what has worked and what is causing you stress.

  • Don’t be discouraged if you don’t receive the response you’re seeking; remember that people that aren’t going through the caregiving journey likely cannot truly relate to your experience. Be flexible & open-minded and work together to create a resolution.

  • Reach out to your Human Resources department so that you know your rights and are aware of your benefits. Your boss may be unaware of policies or programs supporting caregivers.

Where may the result of my conversation lead?

Once the conversation is in progress, you can work with your employer to create a corporate caregiver support plan. What types of benefits may result from braving the discomfort associated with such a heavy topic?

  • Information, resources and training for the corporate caregiver

  • Short-term or ongoing support like counseling and coaching

  • Employee assistance and/or wellness programs

  • Flexible work practices or telecommuting options

Know you’re not alone - here is some caregiver advice:

  • "When a caregivers is open with the supervisor it provides an opportunity to work with the employee," says Jan Riddle, PHR, the human resources manager for Oxford HealthCare (from AgingCare).

  • "Let your boss know the situation, but then step back and take cues from their response and actions," Stacy Brooks (senior marketing manager of a global IT services company) suggests. "For example, if they say, ‘Take whatever time you need,' then you'll know they support the decisions that you as the caretaker have to make.” (from AgingCare).

  • And according to the AARP, “We must consider the unique needs of millennial family caregivers and ensure that they are included in programs and have the support they need to care for themselves as well as their loved ones.”

Have you already spoken to your boss about your life as a caregiver and work-life balance? What advice would you share with those who have yet to conquer their fear?

CareZare is a FREE app for family caregivers to help them manage their care team and ensure the highest level of care for their loved one.

Logan Wells