How Caregiver ERGs Help Your Employees

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are a growing trend in employee engagement, career development, and job satisfaction. As employees and employers see the benefits of coworkers building connections, groups are being formed around more identities. While working parent ERGs have been popular for several years, caregiver ERGs are also a fast-growing type.

What Is an Employee Resource Group?

Until recently, the idea of bringing your “full self” to work, was fairly unheard of. Workers were supposed to come to work from 9 to 5, go home and live their lives. Over the past several decades, we’ve come to understand that workers are more than their jobs. Workers are members of specific cultural or social groups. They’re parents, spouses, and children. Some of these identities may make it harder for workers to find support and development opportunities in the workplace.

ERGs aim to foster a diverse and inclusive workplace by supporting employees. These are voluntary, employee-led groups. An organization might have an ERG for LGBTQ employees, Black employees, female employees, or working parents. The groups exist to provide support and help in personal or career development. They also create a safe space where employees can bring their full selves.

Why Create a Caregiver ERG

Approximately 73% of employees have some kind of caregiving responsibility at home. Caregivers face a separate set of challenges at work in comparison to working parents, as it is often difficult to find in-home care, specialized camps, education, and resources for care recipients. This can result in almost one third of caregiving employees voluntarily leaving jobs because of their responsibilities at home. Helping employees learn how to balance their jobs and their responsibilities (both logistically and emotionally) is good for employee well-being and employee retention.

Employee Resource Group Best Practices

No two ERGs are exactly the same. It’s important that management not try to exert too much control over the group, but there are some practices that should be encouraged.

Determine the Goal and Purpose

ERGs need structure. Setting goals ensures that the purpose of the ERG is known and there is accountability. These objectives need to be realistic and achievable.

Establish Leadership

Inaugural members of an ERG can brainstorm ideas, compose a mission statement, and select leaders.

Provide Company Support

Organizations should support ERGs with funding, resources, tools, and enough free time within the work day for the ERG to meet regularly. Allocating a budget for the group lets them decide what type of events and outreach they can plan.

Employee Resource Group Caregiver Activities

One of the hardest challenges for any ERG is finding time during the busy work day to meet. The challenge is harder for caregiver groups because employees may have different work schedules in order to meet their caregiving responsibilities. One of the first orders of business should be deciding if the group should meet at the same time every meeting (so people can plan around it) or at a variety of times (so people with different schedules can attend).

Lunch and Learn

Brown bag (or catered lunches) during the work day can be a great way for ERGs to learn about a variety of topics including financial and legal issues. AARP can also provide a speaker for virtual presentations on caregiving.

Video Meetings for Partners

Depending on your work schedule and set up, hosting a virtual meeting at the beginning or end of the day can be a great way to allow members to involve their partners and spouses. Involving partners and spouses can reduce stress on the caregiver.

Internal Advocacy

One of the most important features of an ERG is that it allows members to advocate for their needs as a group. This advocacy can take the form of sharing stories or actively lobbying management for what they need, like flexible hours or caregiving benefits.

The AARP Caregiving Toolkit has suggestions for additional topics and activities.

All employees want to feel supported and understood at work. Employees with caregiving responsibilities–for children with disabilities, seniors, or loved ones with medical conditions–often feel overlooked and overwhelmed. A strong caregiver ERG can help these valuable employees reduce stress and perform better at work and at home.

Find out more ways to support your employee caregivers by learning about the benefits that can help

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