The toll of being a caregiver can extend well beyond emotional repercussions; it can also be financially taxing. Caregivers frequently spend their own money to support loved ones, and often, they're forced to make career sacrifices that hurt their earning prospects.
Bank of America's 2019 Workplace Benefits Report confirms that caregiving can have a dramatic impact on one's career. It finds that 34% of workers who provide care to another adult spend 20 hours or more per month doing so, which is no easy feat for someone attempting to hold down a full-time job. If you've found yourself in a caregiving role, here are a couple of ways it could be hurting your career -- and what to do about them.
1. Added stress
In the aforementioned report, 29% of caregivers had more difficulty handling stress. If that's been your experience, then it could be impacting your job performance for the worse. The solution? Invest in self-care, and use whatever employer resources are available to you in this regard. That could mean participating in wellness programs through work, or using your health benefits to talk to a counselor or social worker about what you're going through.
2. Missed time at work
An estimated 26% of caregivers report missing work over their situation. And while you can't always plan for caregiving emergencies, you can ask your employer for more leeway on the scheduling front. If your employer is willing to let you work from home on an as-needed basis, or is willing to let you set your own hours, you may have an easier time managing your caregiving responsibilities without clocking in too many absences for comfort.
Seek help from your employer
You may not think your employer gives a hoot about your caregiving situation, but chances are that's not true. An estimated 88% of employers offer some type of caregiving resources for their employees, but only 29% of workers are aware of this fact.
Rather than assume that you're on your own with regard to caregiving, talk to your manager or HR representative about the challenges you're facing, and see what assistance is available. You may be eligible for a number of options that make your situation easier, whether it's the ability to cut back your hours, alter your schedule, or take a leave of absence as necessary. Along these lines, your employer might allow you a certain number of personal days each year for caregiving purposes that don't count against your vacation time.
Along these lines, don't be shy about seeking support from your colleagues. You never know when a co-worker might be willing to attend a late-day meeting on your behalf or take over a big presentation if you're too busy with caregiving tasks to carve out the time.
There's no question about it: Being a caregiver isn't easy. But you may be surprised at how accommodating your employer is willing to be to make your situation easier. Rather than keep your challenges bottled up, share them with the right people at work. It could be just the thing that makes a trying situation just a bit more manageable.