Supporting Caregivers in the Workplace

Supporting Caregivers in the Workplace
October 19, 2023 13 mins

Supporting Caregivers in the Workplace

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Employers that build flexible, inclusive cultures help caregivers in the workplace to balance their responsibilities on the job and outside work.

Key Takeaways
  1. As employers create new parameters around remote work, maintaining a supportive, flexible culture helps employees — especially those who are caregivers — find a work-life balance.
  2. Creating tailor-made benefits plans and resources helps bolster a company’s productivity, reduce absenteeism and retain talent.
  3. Employers should also focus on training management to ensure that they are making the most of their team and equipping employees with accurate, useful information.


While most employers are accepting that business has changed since 2020, some still struggle to balance meeting employees where they are and wanting to return to a world that no longer exists. “A lot of employers are pulling back from the hybrid approach,” says Rafeena Ally, vice president of global benefits at Aon. “But it’s important for employers to not become so rigid.”

However, it’s no secret that employees have come to prefer remote work or a hybrid model. And for employees who also serve as caregivers for family members, these models have allowed them to manage their responsibilities at work and home in a way that was unimaginable before.

So how should organizations support their employees today? How can they extend their resources to prioritize caregiving in all its forms — self-care, childcare, eldercare and beyond?

By rethinking their approach to benefits, companies can make the most of their investments while ensuring that caregiving employees feel seen and supported.

In Depth

When it comes to creating well-rounded benefits programs, employers have to simultaneously consider changing workforce preferences, rising healthcare costs related to inflation and their bottom line. “The world has changed, and we have to adapt to that change to make sure that both employers and employees are benefiting,” says Ally.

What’s more, employees who identify as caregivers for their children, parents or other loved ones have additional needs that employers can address through their benefits programs and workplace policies.

Importantly, no two caregivers are the same.

“Caregivers in the workforce all come from different generations and cultures and have different incomes,” says Joana Coelho, senior associate of health solutions for the Europe, Middle East and Asia region at Aon. “They’re taking care of all kinds of other people, too. Employers need to have a broad mindset in their caregiver policies to consider new and different kinds of families.”

How Employers Can Support Caregivers

Employee caregivers have different needs depending on the type of care they provide. Expectant parents, for example, may benefit from “ramp-up, ramp-down” policies related to family leave. Someone caring for a spouse with a long-term condition such as multiple sclerosis, however, may want guidance on treatment options.

Revamping policies requires cultural change and investment from the top down, but creating a foundation of support could be as simple as providing resources, such as training for caregivers. “Caregivers do not have all the knowledge about the condition or the disease of the person they care for, so providing more information can help them with their roles,” Coelho explains.

Telemedicine and virtual technology have also made therapy and healthcare more accessible, giving employees the benefit of access to a network of experts, such as nurses or social workers. Employee assistance programs (EAPs) may also offer support in a virtual setting. EAPs can help caregivers navigate healthcare more easily by identifying resources employees can use to provide the correct care or support for a family member. They can also help cut the complexity out of healthcare and nuanced caregiving needs by putting employees in touch with vendors who can offer short-term counseling, assessments or referrals to specialized care providers.

How Employers Can Provide Resources for Care Infographics

Rethinking Caregiver Benefits

It’s important for employers to connect benefits directly to the culture of the company. Any employee can benefit from flexible work schedules, wellness days or more progressive time-off policies, but these initiatives can offer significant help to caregivers seeking a better work-life balance.

“Caregiving is not only a logistical challenge. It is also a physical, social, emotional and financial challenge,” says Coelho. “It’s important for employers to be as comprehensive as possible when they are trying to design a support plan.”

Flexible schedules and more time off in general can help employees work when they can be the most productive while still allowing them to, for example, take an elderly parent to a doctor’s appointment. During the school year, managers must think about scheduling early morning calls that would interfere with daycare or school drop offs. Furthermore, offering equal time off to parents following the birth of a child can help offset gender imbalances in caregiving.

Annelieke van Mens, managing consultant for health solutions at Aon, explains that it is important to respond appropriately to the changing environment in addition to immediate needs. Teacher and daycare worker shortages, for example, could affect employees and employers more.

“They will have to respond to that trend to offer more support,” van Mens says, noting that providing on-site daycare facilities or partnering with third-party companies to offer care could be more progressive and proactive solutions for companies to invest in.

Making the Most out of Investments

As employers become more cost-conscious, it’s important that they avoid sacrificing programs and resources that would otherwise help them retain strong talent. Making employees aware of the benefits that are available to them is one of the easiest ways to help employers get the most out of their investment. Benefits training for human resources professionals and managers will help broaden awareness of different types of offerings and point employees in the right direction faster.

Coupling proper training management with a robust, inclusive benefits program ultimately improves performance. “If employers can reduce instances of employees having to take time off to care for a sick child or parent, then they will help the business be more productive,” says Ally. “They’ll be reducing absenteeism, increasing retention and boosting morale by putting these policies in place.”

Recognizing the Role of the Caregiver

By acknowledging the responsibilities employees juggle inside and outside the office and building a support system to help them navigate whatever life brings, employers are encouraging a stronger culture and reducing the stigma that caregiving can hold.

“Caregivers don’t always disclose their responsibilities because they are afraid of the consequences or the negative impact they could have on their careers,” says Coelho. “Building a culture of support, empathy, collaboration and belonging will help to promote openness among employees to allow them to talk about their problems. This is the first step needed for companies to give effective support.”

Van Mens agrees, noting that it’s important to recognize these nuances and proactively develop benefits to address them. “Don’t wait for the employee to come to you and to ask for it,” she says. “Try to set up a system where you recognize where people are struggling.”

General Disclaimer

This document is not intended to address any specific situation or to provide legal, regulatory, financial, or other advice. While care has been taken in the production of this document, Aon does not warrant, represent or guarantee the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or fitness for any purpose of the document or any part of it and can accept no liability for any loss incurred in any way by any person who may rely on it. Any recipient shall be responsible for the use to which it puts this document. This document has been compiled using information available to us up to its date of publication and is subject to any qualifications made in the document.

Terms of Use

The contents herein may not be reproduced, reused, reprinted or redistributed without the expressed written consent of Aon, unless otherwise authorized by Aon. To use information contained herein, please write to our team.

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