It’s been about a year since I was immersed in decisions and responsibilities related to my parents’ care. Filling up medication boxes, following up with physicians and hospitals, advocating in rental agreements. I wouldn’t give up any of it, given the choice. In living this – and sharing my experiences with friends and co-workers – I’ve found it to be more common than not, that those around me are facing the same daily phone calls, decisions, and often, stressors. Here at CROET, my closest co-workers and I have shared strategies and stories of assisting our parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and siblings as they age. What has been apparent throughout all of this, is how critical flexibility, leave and support from my supervisors and organization have been. It’s been the real life experiment of what research has demonstrated. And oh, how incredibly relevant to our discussions surrounding Total Worker Health.
Research from many in the field, including Oregon Healthy Workforce Center’s own Dr. Leslie Hammer, have helped organizations determine best practices in supporting employees with work/family balance challenges, including eldercare. These strategies include policies (such as flexible work schedules, leave options, management training), benefits (including flexible benefits plans, insurance, employee-assistance programs), and services (education and resources).
While discrepancies in supporting programs may be particularly apparent in specific industries and among small employers, a recent Gallup Poll illustrates the significant detrimental affects facing employers who don’t create supporting programs. This 2011 Gallup Poll reports that working American caregivers (those who spend at least 15 hours per week and help care for a family member, relative or friend) report that their caregiving obligations significantly affect their work life, including significant work day absences. This poll concludes with the recommendation, which is supported by research, that organized employee support systems are likely to be a wise organizational investment.
How is your organization addressing work/life challenges and balance?