When Supporting the Caregiving Workplace, Find the Employee Who Supports the Workforce

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When Supporting the Caregiving Workplace, Find the Employee Who Supports the Workforce

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I recently gave a presentation at a large employer based near Chicago. I presented to an affinity group formed by employees who care for a family member.

After the presentation, it occurred to me that we often overlook a simple solution to help family caregivers in the workplace -- supporting that employee who supports those in the workplace who care for a family member. Since presenting in the workplace since 1999, I've noticed a trend: An employee (or sometimes a group of employees) becomes the informal support to other employees. Typically, this employee is not part of Human Resources but simply an employee who's had a caregiving experience (current or previous) and wants to make a difference.

In essence, a workplace solution often organically happens.

What if the employer supported that employee who supports his or her co-workers? The employee (we'll call him or her the "Caregiving Resource Director") receives recognition for the additional responsibilities he or she takes to help other employees in a caregiving situations. The support offered to the Caregiving Resource Director could include:

  • a budget for special events, workshops and seminars;
  • a space and budget for a Caregiving Resource Library;
  • an opportunity to share updates and solutions on the company intranet and through other internal communications;
  • resources for support groups (a meeting room, promotions on the intranet and other internal communication);
  • an additional title (like Caregiving Resource Director) and raise;
  • training, such as our Certified Caregiving Consultant™ course so the employee has tools to avoid burn-out and remains an effective resource;
  • support such as sending the employee to our National Caregiving Conference to ensure the employee is up-to-date on resources and services.

In many cases, an employer already has a caregiving expert on staff. This expert understand the company's culture, its benefits and its inner workings because he or she is an employee. And, certainly, the employees benefit from having a co-worker who shares resources and organizes supportive events, like workshops and meetings.

How do you know if you have a caregiving expert at your workplace? Just ask yourself: Who will I go to for help at work when I start to help a family member who isn't well? You now have your answer.

What do you think? Would this work at your workplace? If you're the go-to person for all things caregiving, would you like to have additional recognition for your informal role? Share your thoughts in our comments section, below.

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