5 Ways to Support Military Caregivers in the Workplace

Who are Military Caregivers?  And how do they affect your business?

 

According to a recent survey conducted by the RAND Corporation, it is estimated that there are currently over 1.1 million Military Caregivers serving post-9/11 Veterans. Military Caregiver is a term that refers to the unsung heroes who care for Service Members who have been wounded, injured, or have developed an illness as a result of their time in the military. Military Caregivers are often family members or friends who provide a wide range of assistance based on the needs of the individual.

This demographic typically cares for a disabled Veteran, including those with a behavioral or mental health conditions. This group of Caregivers is often comprised of spouses and family friends, often young adults who are juggling the demands of a full-time job and raising children.  To meet the demands of caring for a Service Member, these post-9/11 Military Caregivers may utilize a support network to ensure the Veteran has the care and support needed, and may work in rotations or shifts. In comparison, pre-9/11 Military Caregivers are typically older, adult children caring for aging parents.

Currently, many of the federal programs and services available primarily provide assistance to the injured Veteran, with limited peripheral assistance and support available to the caregiver.

At first glance, you may not realize you have Military Caregivers working in your organization. It is rare for a Military Caregiver to share the everyday burdens and challenges they face with their supervisors.  If you do become aware that an employee is performing a Military Caregiver role, there are several ways that you, as an employer, can provide support.  Here are 5 ways you can help your Military Caregiver employees.

  1. Verbalize Support: If you have Military Caregivers working for you, let them know you are there to help. It often relieves stress for the employee when you take the time to understand their needs and show that you care. You can also advocate for better state and local services for Veterans and their caregivers, and encourage your employees to utilize them. Each state is different with regards to the amount of support offered to Military Caregivers. Additionally, information on local programs that support both injured Veterans and Military Caregivers can be obtained through local Military and Veteran programs.
  1. Employee Assistance Programs (EAP): EAPs are an excellent way to help employees cope with the pressures of being a Military Caregiver. One of the most common benefits of EAP Programs is confidential counseling to help employees handle acute issues that effect job productivity, such as depression, anxiety, and negative coping skills associated with those conditions. Incorporating an EAP within an employer benefit package provides an opportunity for Military Caregiver employees to receive counseling and assistance for personal issues that can result in added stress and lost productivity.
  1. Alternative Work Schedules: Two popular methods of Alternative Work Schedules are Flexible Scheduling and Telecommuting. By implementing these options, employers allow Military Caregiver to schedule work around other commitments, such as their Service Member’s medical appointments. The value of alternative work schedules supports the employer (lower overhead costs and higher productivity), as well as the employee (lower stress and increased work-life balance).
  1. Wellness Programs: In recent studies, wellness programs have been shown to decrease stress and increase productivity in employees. The benefits of offering wellness programs to Military Caregivers can be very impactful on the wellbeing of your employees. Popular wellness programs include lifestyle coaching, on-site health checkups, smoking cessation programs, and nutrition counseling. Other more proactive forms of wellness programs include discounted gym memberships and issuing employees activity trackers. All of these programs help Military Caregivers to maintain a healthy and more balanced life style.
  1. Child Care Assistance: Child Care Assistance and/or programs that help employees with finding appropriate childcare are one of the best resources for caregivers who are parents, even more so for employees who are also dealing with being Military Caregivers. For organizations that do not have childcare facilities onsite, there are still several ways to help. Tuition assistance for childcare needs, partnering with a local independent day care center, or provide access to referral services are all helpful. Providing child care assistance for a Military Caregiver employee can reduce stress and uncertainty while the employee is at work.

Overall, finding and supporting your employees that are also Military Caregivers makes good business sense. Employees that are happier, less stressed and have a greater work-life balance are also more productive.