More and more businesses are facing a challenge and some decisions to be made. As the baby boom generation moves into retirement years and becomes elderly, the workers that make your business function so efficiently are going to have the additional demands placed on them of becoming the primary caregiver for an aging parent.
It’s easy to just shrug at this need in your employee population but just as the demands of parenting can have a huge impact on the workplace, the personal needs of your employees to take care of their aging parents will have an impact on the office and the productivity of your business.
Business can no longer be cavalier and declare, “Well they can just quit and we can find new employees.” The brutal truth is that skilled, trained and mature employees don’t, as they day, grow on trees. With the work force shrinking, it’s foolish to think that if you have a solid and hard working employee who knows his job and does good work for your business, that employee can’t just be replaced with a kid right out of school.
The cost to your business can be devastating if you have a policy of running off good, hard working and smart employees because they are becoming caregivers in their personal lives and replacing them with younger, unskilled employees who are less informed about the ways of business. The costs of training and the learning curve of the job alone will easily be more than any costs of accommodating existing employees. Moreover, you cannot just replace judgment, relationships, market savvy and wisdom which many of the employees in the age bracket bring to your business.
So how do you accommodate the needs of this new group of caregivers who are beginning to become a regular part of your workforce? The first step is to understand what they are going through. These people are going to take care of their loved ones whether you are aware of it or not. So if you can partner with them to make them successful at home, they will work extra hard to make you successful in the marketplace.
Start with some seminars and brown bag lunches where people can come and share the demands they are going through as caregivers for elderly parents or loved ones. Invite everyone to these lunches because there will be many in your business who know that is coming up for them and want to learn all they can about what is ahead. By making an open discussion of elderly care issues part of the discussion at work, you are communicating that you want to help and not hinder what your employees are facing. And that will endear you to them and get you the reputation of being one of those “good employers” in town.
Not all employees who are caregivers will need accommodation all the time. If their parent’s needs are not that demanding, it will be more of an emotional adjustment than a demand on the schedule. But encourage each employee who is entering into a time of being the primary caregiver for their parent to communicate that to you both through meetings with the Human Resource department and to their boss as well.
There is a practical side to getting inside of what is going on with your employees. To your workers, they see you as family and feel more bonded to the workplace because you are concerned about their parents. But for you, the business will know in detail what is going on with that situation so you can anticipate if that worker will see sudden interruption come up at work and adjust schedules accordingly.
Be sensitive and be communicative with your employees and you can truly become their partner in dealing with this tough part of their lives. And in doing so, they will feel that you support them and their loyalty to the company will skyrocket. That loyalty will translate into better productivity and longevity in your workforce. That stability translates into a more efficient organization which is a more profitable organization. So in the long run, partnering with your caregivers in the workplace just makes good business sense.