SPOTLIGHTING SUCCESS IN THE NETWORK:
UNITED FOR CAREGIVERS@WORK IN PITTSBURGH
This feature story is an extension of UWRA’s Aging in Place research conducted in 2019, funded by a grant from the Cinda A. Hallman Memorial Fund, which addresses two of the recommendations made by UWRA:
1) Amplify United Way’s commitments to older adults, and 2) Drive knowledge sharing across the United Way network.
According to estimates from the National Alliance for Caregiving, during the past year, 65.7 million Americans served as family caregivers for an ill or disabled relative.1
Caregiving for children and older family members is nothing new in our society. Most adults spend a significant proportion of their lifetime caring for someone else, whether raising children or taking care of aging or disabled family members.
Caregiving might include episodic tasks, such as helping loved ones fill prescriptions, paying bills, or transporting them to doctor appointments. For others, the care is more time intensive and may include regular check-ins, bathing, and meal preparation. Although caregiving can be a meaningful experience, the stress and strain of added responsibilities can impact mental and physical health, as well as personal finances. Individuals who balance their caregiving role with work responsibilities are even more likely to experience stress and feel overwhelmed in the workplace.
Many forward-thinking companies are stepping up for working moms and dads. Working caregivers belong in this conversation, too. Much like new parents, employees who are caregivers need support from their managers and colleagues to feel safe, access resources, and manage their responsibilities. Heather Sedlacko, Vice President of Community Impact at United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh, PA), said, “Needs for seniors grow as they age, but health services are limited. Nearly 80% of caregiving help is provided by family members. Families are stretched.”
In 2015, the United Way of Southern Pennsylvania, in partnership with the Pittsburgh Foundation, launched the United for Caregivers@Work program to address these challenges head on. The program offers local employers an opportunity to integrate caregiving support into their company culture. Employees can access educational and practical resources, including manager training, an employee survey, a series of learning sessions on common caregiving topics, and more. “We provide speakers on topics that caregivers care about (handling the holidays, how to talk to healthcare providers, support during the pandemic, financial planning, and FMLA), and we conduct pre and post surveys to measure the impact. To date, thirteen participating companies have engaged in the program -- all with positive feedback,” noted Heather.
Plus, it’s good business. Workplace programs that engage caregivers have been shown to increase productivity, retention, and employee satisfaction– building trust and delivering a return on investment.
According to a 2016 report conducted by AARP and ReACT, businesses offering flexibility to caregivers saw an ROI between $1.70 and $4.45 for every dollar invested 2 in these policies. This program is a workforce retention strategy for companies with positive outcomes.
According to Heather, “We ask companies to sign on for year- long participation, but the goal
is for employers to make family caregiving a permanent part of their workplace culture.”
Learn more about Pittsburgh’s United for Caregivers@Work program, contact.
1 “Who Are Family Caregivers?” American Psychological Association, 2020, www.apa.org/pi/about/publications/caregivers/faq/statistics.
2 “AARP and ReACT Release ‘Determining the ROI: Supportive Policies for Employee Caregivers’ Report.” ReACT, respectcaregivers.org/?p=720.