I continue to tweak the format of my newsletter with the intention of delivering a balance of quickly digestible and thoughtful information. In this newsletter, I share my thoughts on workplace flexibility followed by my recommended reads and updates about my work. Drop me a note at email@example.com to let me know what you think about this format and the newsletter overall.
Hello from the doldrums of February.
This month, while the shortest, is the pits—at least in my estimation. It's the month that marks the loss of my father. Toward the end of his life, my father needed care and attention, as many parents do at this stage. It's care and attention I and others give willingly, but it's not without its toll.
Today, at least one in five adult Americans provides care to someone else. That ratio grows smaller, according to CoHealth Checkup guest Kevin Sypniewski, when you consider that caregiving begins earlier than most of us recognize. It begins with helping to bring in patio furniture for the winter or acting as Ms. Computer Fixit—two of Kevin's examples—and progresses from there.
With more and more of us spending time, energy and money on helping parents (and let's not forget the children and pets), we are beginning to see the impact on businesses and individuals. Here are a few startling caregiving statistics:
Caregivers are less likely to be successful in making a healthy change, whether that's eating better, exercising more, or reducing stress (American Psychological Association)
I think the point's made. Caregiving is something that the majority of us will face at some point in our lives, and when we do, it can—if unsupported—wreak havoc on our health, our focus, our productivity and advancement at work, and our financial security.
Today, employers' support is inconsistent at best. The 2012 National Study of Employers suggests growing acceptance for workplace flexibility. More workplaces are offering flextime and telecommuting and allowing individuals greater control over their schedules. The gaps appear with paid time off and elder care. (Though those gaps exist elsewhere. For example, fewer companies allow for changes in job status—say a shift from part-time to full-time and back again—than flextime and situational scheduling changes.) According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) 2012 Employee Benefits Study, companies are less likely to offer paid time off for family leave, paternity leave, sabbatical or emergency flexibility. And it's the odd company that offers access to backup elder care services, on-site elder care fairs or even elder care referral services.
It's time for employers to come to grips with their misplaced assumptions about workplace flexibility. With the percentage of adult children providing some type of caregiving assistance to a parent tripling over the past 15 years, effectively dealing with workplace flexibility and caregiving support is the next frontier in our collective conversation about employee health and well-being.