Survey Says: It Helps to Talk about Caregiving at Work


Survey Says: It Helps to Talk about Caregiving at Work

startup-594090_640The results of our First Annual Survey of Working Family Caregivers are in. We received 80 responses to our survey, which asked about your experiences in the workplace.

According to our survey, most respondents spoke with their manager about their caregtiving responsibilities and, as a result, felt better having done so. The respondents said that they use their time off to manage caregiving responsibilities and wished they had more flexibility at work.

Respondents also honed in on the flux of a caregiving day. When asked how caregiving affects productivity at work, most said that it all depends on how well their carees are doing. In essence, a caree's frailty and unpredictable disease process means you just can't know when caregiving responsibilities will intensify.

Companies can take some simple steps to better support working family caregivers. Effective communication about resources can save employees time trying to find solutions. In addition, working family caregivers may assume there's no help when help is available. Using communication tools like the company newsletter and Intranet to share solutions for working family caregivers can make a difference. Most of the respondents indicated that they had not seen or were unaware of company communication detailing programs or support for them.

If you manage employees, work in Human Resources, or work and care for a family member, please watch our free webinar, Supporting Working Family Caregivers.

You can see the survey results, below. And, please feel free to share your thoughts and reactions to our survey results in our comments section, below. (Note: You'll note that some answers add up to more than 100%; for those questions, respondents could choose as many answers as appropriate.)

Q1. How long have you been caring for a family member or friend?

  • More than 10 years: 13.8 %

  • Between 5 and 9 years: 33.8 %

  • Between 2 and 5 years: 30.0 %

  • Between six months and 2 years: 18.8 %

  • Less than six months: 3.8 %

Q2. How would you describe the size of your company?

  • More than 10,000 employees: 22.5 %

  • Between 5,000 and 10,000 employees: 5.0 %

  • Between 500 and 5,000 employees: 18.8 %

  • Between 50 and 500 employees: 30.0 %

  • 50 or Less Employees: 23.8 %

Q3. How long have you been employed with your current company?

  • More than 20 years: 17.5 %

  • Between 10 and 20 years: 27.5 %

  • Between 5 and 10 years: 18.8 %

  • Between 2 and 5 years: 16.3 %

  • Between 1 and 2 years: 7.5 %

  • Less than 1 year: 12.5 %

Q4. Which of the following best describe your job function?

  • Accounting 1.3 %

  • Administrative 20.8 %

  • Advertising / Marketing 2.6 %

  • Analyst 2.6 %

  • Art/Creative/Design 1.3 %

  • Business Development 1.3 %

  • Customer Service 7.8 %

  • Health Care Provider (Nurse) 2.6 %

  • Health Care Provider (Other) 3.9 %

  • Education 13.0 %

  • Finance 1.3 %

  • General Business 1.3 %

  • Human Resources 1.3 %

  • Information Technology 6.5 %

  • Legal 2.6 %

  • Management 15.6 %

  • Production 3.9 %

  • Project Management 1.3 %

  • Quality Assurance 1.3 %'

  • Research 1.3 %

  • Sales 1.3 %

  • Strategy/Planning 1.3 %

  • Supply Chain 1.3 %

  • Training 2.6 %

Q5. Do you also manage employees?

  • Yes. 30.0 %

  • No. 70.0 %

Q6. Which benefits are available to you?

  • Unpaid leave (such as Family Medical Leave Act) 66.3 %

  • Paid leave 45.0 %

  • Employee Assistance Program 45.0 %

  • Work/Life benefit 11.3 %

  • Flexible work schedule 47.5 %

  • Job sharing 3.8 %

  • Working from home 37.5 %

  • I'm not sure 0.0 %

  • None of the above 10.0 %

Q7. Which benefits would you like to be available to you?

  • Unpaid leave (such as Family Medical Leave Act) 16.7 %

  • Paid leave 50.0 %

  • Employee Assistance Program 21.2 %

  • Work/Life benefit 34.8 %

  • Flexible work schedule 40.9 %

  • Job sharing 12.1 %

  • Working from home 50.0 %

Q8. Do you feel benefits are fairly available to all, regardless of length of time with the company and job title and responsibilities?

  • Yes. 66.3 %

  • No. 30.0 %

Q9. Has your employer included information about benefits and resources which can help working family caregivers in any company communication, such as an employee newsletter, benefits announcements, wellness or benefits fairs, the company intranet?

  • Yes. 30.0 % 24

  • No. 46.3 % 37

  • Not that I know of. 23.8 %

Q10. Within the past year, how much time off from work have you taken because of your caree's appointments, hospitalizations and other caregiving-related situations?

  • More than four weeks. 18.4 %

  • Between three and four weeks. 13.2 %

  • Between two and three weeks. 14.5 %

  • Between one and two weeks. 30.3 %

  • Five days. 14.5 %

  • Four days. 1.3 %

  • Three days. 1.3 %

  • 'Two days. 5.3 %

  • One day. 1.3 %

Q11. With whom at work have you discussed your caregiving situation?

  • My manager. 71.3 %

  • Human Resources. 20.0 %

  • My co-workers. 67.5 %'

  • No one. 7.5 %

  • Company owner: 1 %

Q12. If you answered 'No one" in Question 8, why not?

  • I don't think my manager will understand. 25.0 %

  • I don't think it will help my situation. 62.5 %

  • I think I will be passed over for a promotion. 0.0 %

  • I think my manager will reduce my work responsibilities. 25.0 %

  • I think I will miss out on future opportunities. 12.5 %

  • I think I will lose my job. 25.0 %

Q13. If you spoke with someone at work about your caregiving responsibilities, what was the result?

  • I learned about resources my employer offers that can help me. 9.1 %

  • I felt better talking openly about my situation. 51.9 %

  • I now have support from others at work. 40.3 %

  • I connected with other co-workers in a caregiving situation. 29.9 %

  • I have more flexibility with my schedule. 23.4 %

  • It made the situation worse for me. 2.6 %

  • Nothing changed. 18.2 %

Write in answers include:

  • The job was already set up as work-at-home, at whatever hours I want/need.

  • Not so worried about the workload I am leaving for others

  • have not spoken to anyone

  • i got moral support but i still get no pay when I don't work and I am a single parent who needs every penny right now

  • my boss fought to keep me multiple times when I was on the chopping block to be laid-off, until he couldn't save me anymore.

  • manager has been supportive

Q14. How much of your paid time off (sick days, vacation time) do you use for caregiving responsibilties and tasks?

  • All of it. 20.3 %

  • Most of it. 39.2 %

  • Some of it. 26.6 %

  • None of it. 6.3 %

  • No paid time off: 7.6 %

Q15. Which part of your work day is most affected by your caregiving responsibilities?

  • The morning because I'm trying to arrive to work on time. 32.9 %

  • My lunch because I'm trying to run errands and get back to work on time. 10.1 %

  • The end of my day because I'm trying to leave on time so I get home. 26.6 %

  • All of the above. 48.1 %

Write-in answers include:

  • I care at weekends so have no down time in a week

  • evening because I feel like one job ended and another is just starting

  • Throughout the day at various times, because of phone calls/emails I need to make on behalf of my parents, to businesses/doctors who are only available 8-5 M-F.

  • With my flexible schedule this is not an issue

  • From awaken to bedtime. Working from home puts me on task non-stop both for work and for caregiving. The continual interruptions makes it impossible to get a full day's paid work.
    afternoons, because I try to book appointments late so as not to use too much time

  • Depends on the task--meeting with repairmen, morning; appts, afternoons; home care worker, food, money, etc., after work.

  • Leaving the job site to go anywhere was impossible, too far away. Phone calls at break times only got voice mail and phones were not permitted on the project, it made handling things from work impossible.

Q16. Do you know of any co-workers who also care for a family member or friend?

  • Yes. 48.8 %

  • No. 51.3 %

Q17. What percentage of your work-related stress is because of your caregiving responsibilities?

  • Most of it. 19.0 %

  • Some of it. 74.7 %

  • None of it. 5.1 %

Q18. How often does your caregiving responsibility affect your productivity?

  • Daily. 22.5 %

  • Weekly. 10.0 %

  • Once in awhile. 23.8 %

  • It all depends on how well my caree is doing. 38.8 %

  • Never. 2.5 % 2

Q19. How well does your company understand the needs of working family caregivers?

  • The company understands. 20.3 %

  • The company has some understanding. 45.6 %

  • The company has no idea. 30.4 %

Write-in answers include:

  • Understands but is sometimes frustrated with my level of caregiving

  • I'm not sure how much they understand. A lot of the people I work with are much younger than I; senior management is in their 40's and 50's.

  • some tried to understand, but were aghast at home much wound up on my plate in the space of 22 days with 2 loved ones in differing catastrophic health care crisis. They tried to give me understanding when I needed to be off to handle POA responsibilities, transfering a patient to another facility, or sit in chemo or be in hospital for a surgery, but in my line of work, you are of no use if you cannot be there.

Q20. Do you struggle with the question, Should I quit my job because of my caregiving responsibilities?

  • Yes. 30.0 %

  • Sometimes. 32.5 %

  • No. 30.0 %

Write-in answers include:

  • I cannot afford to

  • No struggle because it's not possible. It's either work while caregiving or end up on welfare.

  • Not now but that time will come

  • i have no choice but to work or else we don't have a home or food

  • Would like to quit but can't

Q21. What actions can your employer take to build a better workplace?

  • Demonstrate more knowledge and empathy about older workers who are balancing their work with their parental or spousal caregiving responsibilities, and their effects on these worker's health, productivity and flexibility needs.

  • Provide resources for caregivers

  • They offer help in paying for child day care, they should do the same for adult day centers.

  • Look at staff well-being and work/life balance.

  • Recognize that telecommuting is a critical benefit.

  • My employer and supervisor were very supportive of me. Actually it was the 'best' part of the caregiving experience for me.

  • Have a human resource dept. IN our factory. They farmed it out and has been down hill for the past 5 years.

  • What is it we can do for you during this stressful time? If there's any time you need to make up just let us know.

  • I think they are doing a better job than most

  • Offer paid time off (vacation & sick days)

  • Be more open, flexible and understanding about the situation.

  • offer flexible hours and working from home

  • Ensure all managers enforce the same policies to all.

  • None I think overall for a major financial services firm, my company does very well with offering flexibility in scheduling to accommodate my caregiving needs (e.g. allowing me flexibility for appts.). The only thing may be to offer more unpaid time, as I use up all my vacation on doctor visits and frequently have little vacation time left for true vacation for myself.

  • Flexibility is HUGE! Support. Understanding.

  • Newsletter to employees

  • None. She is awesome.

  • Allowing me to work part time

  • more flexibility, more help with insurance problems

  • Flextime availability and more opportunities to work from home.

  • paid FMLA, more flexibility to work from home

  • I'm very fortunate to have a lot of support. I work at home and keep my work done so they know they don't have to worry.

  • My employer has been very helpful and understanding letting me flex my schedule to accommodate my responsibilities

  • Help subsidize some adult care program fee discounts for employees' adult care recipients. Encourage more conversations and recognition throughout workplace about respect and flexibility for caregiving employees' needs, which will help us maintain our productivity.

  • Be more understanding when time off is needed.

  • Caregiver support group meeting either virtual or face-to-face that is not counted as leave from the job.

  • I work for a municipality they have no understanding. All they care about is that I show up and do my work.

  • Let me work from home some of the time.

  • Flexible working hours or the ability to work from home as needed. In my position I can do the majority of my work from home if allowed.

  • Acknowledge that caregiving is a real issue and education the younger workers about how to cope when it's their turn so they don't have to reinvent the wheel.

  • more flex time

  • Have a caregiving leave policy as well as flex time and work from home

  • I did not qualify for protection under FMLA because I had not worked 12 months previously for my employer. Any benefits I had built up are exhausted and nothing could stop the lay off. I just wish there was some understanding, some provisions to assist a construction worker in my shoes. Anything would have helped.

  • Paid leave

  • Better communication.

  • Flexibility and less overall demands.

  • Be understanding. Be flexible. And have a better way of communicating employee benefits and don't make them dig for the resources they need.


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