In For Care

Informal caregiving: a growing problem for employers and employees

19 November 2019 - Published by Ragni Leifson
During an event organized by the Werkgeverssteunpunt Drenthe (WSPD), an advisory and support group for entrepreneurs, the Province of Drenthe and Ik ben Drents Ondernemer held a workshop on policy regarding caregivers. Within the context of the Interreg In For Care project, the Province has been running an awareness-raising campaign focussing on the combination of work and caregiving from the employer’s perspective.

Many interested employers and business representatives joined the hour-long session to hear about the what, why and how of developing a suitable policy for caregivers. This included a tailormade approach, meaning that each of the participants made an analysis of their own organization. This resulted in a generic action plan of measures to be taken.

Why do we need a policy?

The number of working informal caregivers has grown from I in 6 to 1 in 4 over the past three years. We expect these numbers will continue to grow.  The increasing amount of employees combining intensive caregiving tasks with work is a particular concern. There is a very high risk of long-term absenteeism, leading to potential costs of up to € 200,000 per worker per annum. Preventative measures deliver not just cost benefits but also loyalty, job satisfaction and higher productivity from informal caregiving staff.

What is a caregivers’ policy?

It may sound complicated, but this can be integrated into existing policy quite easily. The main thing is that informal caregiving is a recognized theme within the organization, that arrangements and provisions are well described and communicated, managers and employees look together for made-to-measure solutions. Seeing as only 50% of employees broach the subject or their caregiving duties with their supervisors, there is a lot to be gained in this respect.

How do we develop this policy?

There are four concrete points of departure concerning policy for working informal caregivers:

  • Negotiate
  • Describe
  • Train
  • Secure

These four steps are determined with the help of a checklist: which measures have been or have yet to be taken at a certain moment? The measures not yet undertaken form the basis for the policy to be implemented.

Positive reactions

The workshop participants reacted very enthusiastically, having gained improved insights into their individual situations in such a short time. Most were certainly aware of the issues relating to informal caregivers, but they had not yet been able to get a handle on satisfactory solutions.