New resource available for working family caregiversBalancing work and family care is challenging.
By: By Joe Gigliotti, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Balancing work and family care is challenging.A new UW-Extension resource is trying to make it easier.
Employees struggling with this balancing act can take the “Employed Family Caregiver Survey”, a new creation by UW-Extension. Calumet County Family Living Educator Teri Zuege-Halvorson helped push the idea forward.
“We really want to be able to help people with that whole process: make care-giving easier, to help employers, to help employees stay employed and to make it easier for everyone,” Halvorson said.
The 20 question survey focuses on elder care, asking employees about the relationship between their doing that and doing their job.
“How is it affecting their work? How much time are they spending on caregiving? How many years have they been care-giving? What kind of resources are they interested in? How would they like to receive those resources?”
Halvorson says it can be overwhelming.
“We’ve been finding that there are some people out there where it becomes so all-consuming, that they end up leaving the workforce because they can’t balance,” Halvorson said. “Making appointments, people’s medications, doing home repair on that person’s house.”
A 2010 Gallup poll said nearly a third of the people who care for a member of the family working in the U.S. miss at least six work days a year, resulting in 126 million missed workdays and $25.2 billion in lost productivity. UW-Madison Family Studies Professor Clif Barber says survey results have caught employers off guard.
“We have collected data from six employers who used the survey, and all of them were surprised at the number of employees who were balancing work and elder care,” Barber said. “They were surprised, too, at the impact that balancing act had on work performance.”
Barber says all six employers plan to discuss changes to their policies and additional services to offer. He says employers can also benefit by making these adjustments.
“If they address the needs of employees who are balancing work and elder care, then those become loyal employees,” Barber said. “They don’t leave, they stay in the workforce, they’re contributing members of the workplace.”
The survey is available to employees nationwide. It’s online at extension.org.