We can all agree that caregiving for loved ones has been stressful during the pandemic, many of those who also hold down jobs have appreciated accommodations made by their employers — and they hope that flexibility continues. My start date back to the office was recently changed, due to the Delta variant spreading across the country. I can’t imagine what our “new normal” is like for caregivers.
New research from AARP explores how the pandemic has affected people who are both working and providing care to a loved one, as well as their concerns about returning to prepandemic routines.
Covid has impacted many working caregivers’ load, leading to increased stress for about four in five caregivers. More than three in five reported that they were spending more time caring for their loved one. When asked about the next 12 months, two-thirds of all working caregivers expect some or a great deal of difficulty balancing both of their roles.
The AARP study found that just over half of working family caregivers were offered new benefits during the pandemic, including flexible hours (65 percent), paid leave (34 percent) and mental health or self-care resources (37 percent).
About half of those surveyed were able to telework due to Covid; by early July, 22 percent were still working from home full time, and 30 percent were working from home at least part time.
For those who could work from home, nearly nine in 10 said it helped them balance work and care responsibilities – and 75 percent are worried about how they will manage when their prepandemic schedules resume.
“Employers would be wise to consider how benefits like paid leave and flexible hours can help the one in six workers who are also caring for a loved one,” said Alison Bryant, senior vp at AARP Research. “Living through the pandemic was challenging for working family caregivers — while some were helped by new workplace benefits and flexibility, the vast majority are worried about how to balance both roles going forward. Our research opens a window into how the pandemic changed the workplace and what working caregivers are concerned about in the coming year.”
As offices and other in-person workplaces begin to reopen, many caregivers reported concerns that they would bring the virus home to their loved one (63 percent) or contract Covid at work (53 percent).
About three in five are worried about leaving the person they care for alone while they go to work. Among those who were able to work at home during the pandemic, almost nine in 10 would like the option to continue doing so at least some of the time.
And more than four in 10 caregivers said they would consider looking for a new job if the benefits they were offered during the pandemic were rolled back.
If you are an employer, AARP offers a range of free tools and resources that can help you retain working caregivers, including tip sheets, tool kits and online training for managers. At the same time, if you are a working caregiver, share these resources with your employer at www.aarp.org/employercaregiving.
- Start With Creating a Culture of Awareness
- Building Workplace Policies, Benefits and Programs
- Getting Buy-In From the C-Suite
- Challenges of Implementing New Caregiving Benefits — and Potential Solutions
The survey was conducted by phone and in an online panel from July 1-7 and included 800 U.S. residents 18 years or older who are currently providing unpaid care to an adult relative or friend and employed either full-time or part-time (but not self-employed).
Ron Mori is a member of the Washington, D.C., JACL chapter and manager of community, states and national affairs — multicultural leadership for AARP.