National Family Caregivers Month: Best Practices for Companies to Support Employees

Nov 6, 2014 6:30 PM ET

Along the Outerwall

This month’s guest writer is our stock plan manager, Lisa Leitner, based in our Bellevue, Wash. office. She’s also an active member of Strength Opportunity Ability Resilience & Respect (SOAR), our business resource group (BRG) focused on providing community and support for people with disabilities and their caregivers.

It’s November. For most of us, this means fall, football and food (yes, I mean Thanksgiving). But did you know it’s also National Family Caregivers Month?

Tomorrow when you walk into the office, look at the person next to you in the break room. Glance over the cube wall. You’re not only looking at a coworker; chances are you are working alongside a caregiver. A recent study substantiates something most of you may not have known – 40 percent of US adults are caregivers. Higher than you thought? Me, too.

And after reading this study, I wondered “What does this look like here at Outerwall?” So I did the math. This equates to around 1,200 of my colleagues being caregivers. While I personally know quite a few caregivers at the company, I was shocked by the potential scope across the entire company. It’s nice to know I’m not alone – I’m one of those 1,200 employees.

How we each become caregivers is uniquely different, but here are three primary reasons contributing to the rising number of caregivers:

  • Changing economy: With fewer jobs, the prevalence of lay-offs and less money in the bank, fewer people can afford professional care.
  • Chronic illness: Manageable diseases allow family member to provide the needed care rather than facilities.

If individuals are not prepared, how are employers equipped to handle the changing priorities of their employees?

Outerwall offers several benefits which make a difference for employees:

  • Concierge Service: None of us can be two places at the same time, and Outerwall realizes that between personal and work priorities, it’s tough to tackle everything that needs to get done. All for a nominal co-pay to our vendor, this fantastic benefit provides services ranging from grocery shopping to car washes. So instead of tacking on 30 minutes at the end of the workday to pick up dinner, employees can have more family time, take a badly needed walk or maybe even call a friend who they have not spoken to in a while. Self-care is a healthy and important part about being the best caregiver for loved ones.
  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP): Outerwall’s EAP offers confidential support and resources for employees and their eligible family members during life’s many challenges. Some of the services provided by EAP help employees experiencing challenges through a wide range of issues, including child and elder care.
  • SOAR: Our employee-led BRG offers an additional means of caregiver resources, friendship, community and support. Colleagues and friends experiencing a similar caregiver journey have a lot of insight and support to share in a variety of capacities.

If you’re a family caregiver, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are many wonderful caregiver support programs, here at Outerwall and at other places. There was a saying back in the 90’s “it takes a village to raise a child….” Now it takes a new kind of village to care for us all: Employers, community partners, family and friends.