It's Not an Individual Staffing Issue But a Collective Workplace Challenge


It's Not an Individual Staffing Issue But a Collective Workplace Challenge

On June 2, we convened for our Caregiving and the Workplace Summit in Chicago. At our Summit, we took a closer look at these questions:

  • How does an employee who cares for a family member with a chronic illness or injury (such as a parent, spouse, grandparent, child) keep his or her career on tract?

  • How does the workplace remain productive and profitable when employees also manage an intensely personal experience like caregiving?

Cali Williams Yost

Our day began with a presentation from Cali Williams Yost, CEO and Founder of Flex+Strategy Group & Work+Life Fit Inc., and author of TWEAK IT: Make What Matters to You Happen Every Day. Cali framed the issues for us, sharing a compelling combination of research and her real-world experiences within workplaces helping employees find their fit between work and life, including a life that includes caregiving responsibilities.

After Cali, we heard from three panel discussions, including:

The Working Family Caregiver’s Perspective with

  • Diane Glittenberg, working family caregiver for her mother

  • Darien Hallagan, who quit two jobs while caring for his father

  • Casandra Porter, working family caregiver for her husband

  • Geri Lynn Baumblatt, moderator and working family caregiver for her mother

The Employer's Perspective Panel Discussion

The Employer’s Perspective with

  • Anne Tumlinson, founder of Daughterhood

  • Sharon Toth, Corporate Accounting Manager at Bi-Link

  • Denise Bosh, family caregiver for her mom and co-owner, Blown Away The Salon

  • Denise Brown, Founder,, working family caregiver and panel moderator

Can We Create Best Practices? with

  • Matthew Brown, J.D., Jackson Lewis P.C.

  • Pat O’Dea-Evans, MS, RN, LCPC, CCM, Director, Post-Acute Network SNF Program, Advocate Health ACO Administration

  • Amy Goyer, working family caregiver, AARP caregiving expert for AARP and author of Juggling Life, Work and Caregiving

  • Linda Kunicki, former working family caregiver and Community Liaison, BrightStar Care® of Chicago and La Grange

  • Carol Zindler, Vice President, Client Experience, caremerge, and panel moderator

Best Practices Panel Discussion

As I look back on our Summit conversations, I realize that employers and managers often mistake the caregiving challenge in the workplace to simply be a staffing issue. Meaning, they feel the impact of an employee's caregiving responsibilities in terms of how much time off that employee needs. They see the issue through the staffing lens -- filling and covering shifts, finding coverage for an absent employee. They haven't connected the dots from an individual staffing issue to a collective workforce issue. They haven't stepped back to look at the issue from a greater perspective: Some day in the near future, so many employees will face caregiving issues that it could become a problem for the business.

In a 2014 blog post, Full Homes, Empty Cubes, I wrote:

Caregiving, we know, doesn’t exist within a schedule. We don’t just provide care from 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. and then head off to work to be fully presented in our jobs. And, yet, our work does exist within a schedule and a schedule that extends into longer hours. Caregiving is a 24/7 job. More and more, our work is becoming a 60-hour-a-week commitment. How do we do both? Caregiving requires flexibility and yet work demands we stay on task.

When employers only see the issue as a one-off staffing issue they miss the true problem -- a growing challenge in the workforce of employees trying to be available for a family member with a chronic illness. They also miss that the challenge is not just one incident; because caregiving can last a decade or longer, the employee's staffing issue will be an issue that happens frequently over an extended period of time. More and more employees will be caring for a family member and using the Family Medical Leave Act and their paid time off to manage those caregiving responsibilities. When a significant percentage of employees head to the hospital rather than the office, how will the employer continue its business?

Working family caregivers, though, are adjusting. Consider Diane Glittenberg, a Certified Caregiving Consultant and Certified Caregiving Consultant, who re-created her career after losing her job because of caregiving responsibilities. During our Summit, she shared how she now works two part-time jobs and began a business to help family caregivers. Other panelists agreed: They looked to work in corporate cultures that understood their caregiving responsibilities and allowed them to succeed in their jobs.

It's not one employee becoming a problem. It's a workforce trying to be two places at the same time. And, when a family member is critically ill, our work shifts to caregiving.

Employers who understand that our personal lives will change our professional life will benefit with a loyal, committed, dedicated workforce. Those employers who overlook this significant change will be running to catch up.

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Interested in learning more about how caregiving experiences impact the workplace? You can purchase access to watch Caregiving and the Workplace Summit event via the widget, below. In addition, you can earn 4 CEUs or PDCs for:

  • Certified Caregiving Consultants

  • Certified Caregiving Educators

  • Certified Dementia Practitioner®

  • Certified Senior Advisors


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