Employers can mitigate caregiver burnout by recognizing and addressing it, adapting work routines, and offering caregiver support as a benefit.
More and more people are becoming caregivers every day. In an aging population, many full-time employees are suddenly becoming caregivers — without a manual, without an onboarding period, and, oftentimes, without support. According to the American Association of Retired Persons and the National Alliance for Caregiving, “more than one in five Americans (21.3%) are caregivers, having provided care to an adult or child with special needs at some time in the past 12 months.”
The stress of everyday life doesn’t stop for working caregivers. The pressure to work and fulfill caregiving duties can be overwhelming, and the risk of caregiver burnout is high. Caregivers, out of necessity, abandon their former interests and activities due to caregiving demands and responsibilities, making the stress of caregiving all-encompassing.
To better support caregiving employees, company leaders should take time to understand the challenges of working while caregiving and consider how they can elevate workplace culture to create a safe and supportive environment for those silently suffering from caregiver burnout.
What Is Caregiver Burnout, and How Can Employers Spot It?
Caregiver burnout is when a caregiver experiences prolonged physical and emotional stress, often described as a form of compassion fatigue. These caregivers often deal with an array of issues at home before and after their 8-to-5 workday. These compounding stressors can build up and lead to noticeable signs of burnout, such as decreased productivity, increased time off, fatigue, irritability or low mood, and withdrawal from social settings. A Harvard Business School report shows that 80% of employees with caregiving responsibilities reported decreased productivity at work.
Why Is Caregiver Awareness Important for Businesses?
While caregiver burnout is devastating for employees, long-term caregiver burnout is also detrimental to business. When caregivers experience burnout, not only does their productivity and focus decrease, but the increased absenteeism and reduced engagement can contribute to higher turnover in the workplace as employees struggle to balance the dual demands of work and care.
Absenteeism and lower engagement can provoke negative team dynamics, frustration, and low morale, stifling innovation and creativity. A higher risk of accidents and errors as well as a lower quality of output may occur as a result. The accumulation of these consequences can lead to legal, compliance, and reputational issues down the line.
How Can We Support Those Who Experience Caregiver Burnout?
Practicing caregiver awareness — simply noticing and naming caregiver burnout as a problem — will help caregiving employees significantly.
While awareness is half the battle, there are other ways to offer caregivers support:
- Make space and time for communication.
Help caregivers by setting aside time for open communication. A lot can be done to help working caregivers. First, create awareness about this important issue in the workplace. Regular check-ins between employers and employees will allow caregivers to open up and share what’s inhibiting them from doing their best work. Remember that it can be intimidating for employees to be honest about how their personal life affects them. Many caregivers stay silent, fearing being misunderstood or losing their jobs altogether. Consider coming up with questions to facilitate openness rather than waiting for them to fill the empty space.
- Educate others on caregiver burnout.
To support caregiving employees effectively, companies should train managers to recognize signs of burnout and decreased productivity. The more awareness and eyes on the situation, the quicker organizations can provide support and build trust with their employees.
- Change the working day to suit caregivers.
Implementing flexible workplace routines can provide caregivers with the leeway they need to better balance their work and personal responsibilities. Consider offering flexible work hours, with work-from-home days or a compressed workweek. Encourage time off, and consider creating a dim and quiet space within the office for moments of solitude during the workday.
- Include caregiver support as an employee benefit.
Caregiving is unique to every situation, and caregivers are often lost and desperately need guidance to manage their complex situations. At Sompo Horizon, we offer caregiving support as an employee benefit. Through our digital platform, CareGo, we can connect employees with knowledgeable care advisors and resources to help alleviate their caregiving burdens, allowing them to refocus on their work-life balance. Consider reaching out to our dedicated team today to add CareGo to an existing benefits package.
The importance of health and well-being is well-documented and understood today, but there is still progress to be made when it comes to caregiver burnout. Employees who give so much of their own energy to others on a daily basis need employer support to feel well and operate at their highest potential. The tools are available to care for companies to care for the health of their employees.
The rising trend of employees doubling as caregivers presents a challenge, as the demands often lead to caregiver burnout, marked by physical and emotional stress. Employers can mitigate caregiver burnout by recognizing and addressing it, fostering open communication, educating managers, adapting work routines, and offering caregiver support as a benefit.
this by recognizing and addressing caregiver burnout, fostering open communication, educating on the issue, adapting work routines to accommodate caregiver needs, and offering caregiver support as a benefit. Addressing caregiver burnout not only supports the well-being of the affected employees but also benefits the overall productivity and morale within the workplace.