This pandemic has been hard on everyone. It can be harder for those who are caregivers or support other family members as well. Long-term care professionals, teachers, investors, HR employees, even parents working from home amidst remote learning… we’ve all been focusing so much energy on others that we haven’t realized that we haven’t had any energy or time for ourselves.
In a world where 73% of working professionals are also caregivers, many are feeling the stress and are becoming burnt out and need to "handle their home lives in different ways. ArcVida recently co-hosted an event for employees, job-seekers and leaders with Oneva - an employer-benefit platform connecting trusted caregivers to the employee family customers they serve (now available in the San Francisco, Seattle and Los Angles areas). ONeva’s founder and CEO Anita Gardyne and ArcVida’s CEO Elissa Unton discussed the future of work and strategic approaches into how employees can gain some work/life balance while returning to work and caring for loved ones in the middle of COVID.
Ask for what you need
Working parents are struggling and burnout after a year of quarantining while also trying to find parents vaccines, organize delayed medical appointments, or help their kids learn remotely or shuttling back and forth to schools for 2 hours a day. And as professionals who are care workers, you need to know that you’re valued outside of how much work you can produce. You may not necessarily be reaching out to others for help. There are a variety of leaves for parents and those who care for their elderly parents. Do you know if your place of employment is offering these types of care programs? If you’re currently job-seeking, you may also look locally through FB groups and friends if there are college-aged adults that are able to take on the task.
Leaders that want to build caring, productive organizations support their employees. Talk to your supervisor or HR leadership for more guidance on what types of programs and services are available – some might actually be free or heavily discounted through your employee benefits. Ask for you what you need to thrive as an employee and caregiver. As Anita advised us, "Closed mouths don't get fed!"
Find the right care
Finding the right caregivers for you and your family is critical to your health. You have to find a caregiver that you can trust, which can be a part-time job in itself. Ask your family members questions about what they would need from a caregiver or helper. Make sure to ask yourself the same questions: do you need them to just help with homework or do will they need to make meals as well? Must your caregiver be certified? Do you think their lifestyle will clash with your own? These types of questions will narrow down what kind of caregiving you need to find.
While it might seem daunting to bring in an extra set of hands, it will definitely ease the workload tremendously. And by lighting your load, adding an additional caregiver can release some of the emotional and physical burdens you have 24/7. Assigning tasks to others also helps you free up spare time, as well as gives you the opportunity to take time for yourself.
Make sure that while choosing caregivers, make space and time to be able to interview those without worrying about several immovable deadlines. You want to make sure that you’re taking your time and comfortable with your decision, as their new caregiver is going to be a big part of you and your family’s lives. This decision to take time will allow you to stay focused on essential work too.
And, Anita reminds us that "self-care is essential. In the same way that putting on your own oxygen masks on the plane, before helping others, intentionally taking care of yourself - for even an hour a day will allow you to be an effective employee and caregiver."
Work/life balance after COVID
Even though vaccines are slowly being rolled out, it may take a while to fully get through the COVID pandemic restrictions. But as employees return to the office, it can feel like businesses want to get back to life pre-March 2020 ASAP. Check that your organization is not just saying they want you back, but also offering accommodations to make the process smoother, as well as supporting your wellbeing.
Check if your employer offers programs like on-site childcare, hybrid office schedules or flex hours so you are able to still keep family commitments without feeling the pressure to be in the office 40 hours a week. Businesses that can create a modern working yet caring environment means employees like you will feel excited and proud to come to work, not beholden and trapped.
Look to the future
We’re hopeful for the future and know that there are good things ahead. "Things keep getting better," encouraged Anita. While we are now living in has been be announced as “the new normal,” organizations will need to stay flexible and accommodating to new cares and concerns. You should feel like you are needed as a person and not just a worker.
Caring for loved ones and kids during a pandemic is hard, and it can be hard even in ideal times. If you don’t feel that your job isn’t helpful in continuing to care for your family, it might be time to find a career that has the flexibility to do so. ArcVida programs are designed to help you find the best fit for your career trajectory, and that includes family life. Set up a free strategy session to share your situation. During this initial meeting, we’ll be able to recommend a program that will best suit your career goals, and create an encouraging plan together Your work happiness is our priority.
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Published on 5/26/2021