Thursday 4 April 2024


Trying to balance work while caregiving for a family member or friend can feel frantic and impossible. It's exhausting to prop up a fiction that we "should" be able to manage everything, all at once, by ourselves. But now, there is hope that workplaces everywhere will embed caregiver support that will draw and retain talented employees who also have care responsibilities. Both the evidence and the employer training are here! 

Over the past year or so, I have been working with a team at McMaster University to develop a new, free online course for employers who seek to attract and retain workers who have care responsibilities at home. And now, CREATING CAREGIVER-FRIENDLY WORKPLACES is open for registration! Tell your friends, your family members and everyone who has a stake in making workplaces caregiver-friendly!

The case for making it easier for employees to balance work and care isn't only about caregiver wellbeing (although that's important too, of course). There is a sound economic argument for businesses to engineer this culture shift: 

  • Over 60% of caregiver-employees are caring for their parents, or their parents-in-law
  • 41.5% of caregiver-employees are between the ages of 45-65, representing the most experienced in the labour market
  • 6.2% of caregivers are sandwiched between child rearing and caregiving, in addition to their paid work responsibilities.
So what can employers (Human Resources managers and other business leaders) learn in this course? They will discover a step-by-step approach to creating a system of flexible supports that meet the needs of their caregiver employees. For example, how to create: 
  • Support services, such as counselling, support groups and skills training
  • Flexible work arrangements, such as: working from home and job sharing
  • Strategies which support employees, such as: culture change initiatives and educational workshops
  • Paid or unpaid leave, such as: sick days/leave and family medical/compassionate care leave
  • Financial and other forms of assistance, such as: employee assistance plans (EAPs) and insurance coverage

Depending on the size of the business, employers can put their course learning into implementing a Canadian Standard for Caregiving Workplaces (see the links below), or they can pick and choose whatever strategies work for their individual circumstances. The point is, both workplaces and families are healthier and more sustainable with caregiver support. 

To access the Standard Carer-Inclusive and Accommodating Organizations, follow this link: CSA B701:17 (R2021). From the link choose View Access. You will be required to register to view the Standard, however, the login is free to viewers in Canada. Once you have created an account, you will be allowed to download the Standard.

To access the Helping worker-carers in your organization Handbook (CSA B701HB-18) follow this link: CSA B701HB-18. From the link, follow the same instructions as provided for the Standard.

The time for a change in the way that we work and live is now. Let's start by encouraging all managers everywhere to consider how they can shift workplace culture to accommodate the real, caring lives of employees. A great place to start is by learning how in this free course: Creating Caregiver-Friendly Workplaces AND participants receive a McMaster Continuing Education microcredential. It's a win/win for all.  

Resources: This course is based on the research of Dr. Allison Williams at McMaster University. Her terrific webpage of resources for both employers and caregiver employees can be found HERE

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