That’s never been truer than it is now, two years into a pandemic that demands so much of our physical, emotional, and mental energy. According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control gauging the toll of the pandemic on caregivers, 70% of adults in caregiving roles reported adverse mental health symptoms like depression and anxiety.
But organizational leaders can make a difference if they begin to see the workplaces they lead as a place to create systems to support working caregivers.
In a NationSwell conversation with caregiving expert Dr. Jean Accius, Senior Vice President of Thought Leadership for AARP, NationSwell member Paurvi Bhatt, and MSNBC’s Rich Lui, author of the new book “Enough About Me,” these leaders and experts highlighted the unexpected ways that workplaces are well-positioned to provide caregivers with compassion and dignity, and how performing small acts of selflessness can chart a course towards making our own lives more satisfying.
Here are some of the most compelling insights from the digital event:
Model compassion towards the caregivers in your workforce
Compassionate conversations about caregiving start with a business’s leadership. Shifting the tone at the C Suite-level by raising awareness and conversations in meetings can help employees to have the courage to talk about it directly so that the middle managers feel more comfortable and empowered.
Don’t just support your caregivers — learn from them
Caregiving is a transferable skill set — and your organization stands a lot to learn by amplifying and listening to the voices of caregivers. The ability to narrate, to be an advocate, to multitask and laugh through hard times are all qualities that could benefit organizations and society more broadly, and are all qualities that the leaders of the future will need to embody.
Familiarize yourself with the business case for supporting caregivers
Beyond the ethical imperative to support caregivers, businesses and organizations can also look to the data supporting clear financial incentives to provide for caregivers at work.
With an estimated 60% of caregivers reporting that they’re still working while providing care for their loved ones, jobs that provide tangible benefits and support to working caregivers, including employee resource groups and generous leave policies, are better positioned to retain talent and maintain a healthy bottom line.
Create a work culture that normalizes caregiving
Lui said that creating a culture of care in the workplace starts with the prevalence of caregiving — even among employees who might not outwardly seem like they’re struggling.
“Think about the next conversation through a lens of care, and when someone needs some help, open the door to conversations in order to change the culture from the ground up,” Lui said. “If you’re in a meeting, chances are at least three of the people in there with you are going through some kind of challenge with caregiving.”
Conversations about mental health must go hand-in-hand with conversations about caregiving and physical health. The more we can normalize the mental health journey associated with caregiving, the more we will normalize all conversations about health.
For more insights and learnings on the subject of caregiving, watch our event.