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Managing complex family conditions

Here are some tips for implementing a benefits strategy that can leave your people secure in the knowledge that their families are covered.


As a benefits leader, you not only care for your own people, but for your people’s families as well. This can be challenging in a variety of ways, from creating a strategy to help care for an employee’s child with a disability, to supporting full-time employees who are also primary caregivers to a family member. However, successfully implementing a benefits strategy that is able to support these challenges can give your people the peace of mind they need—secure in the knowledge that their families are covered.

Complex challenges

Six out of 10 caregivers in the U.S. are also employed—half of them working full-time. This means many of your people may be caring for a family member—a child, grandchild, spouse, sibling, parent or grandparent. This could be long-term caregiving, such as caring for a child with autism, or shorter-term caregiving for a parent who has recently experienced a serious health event. Stress and anxiety are common after a major health event, both for the person directly affected and for their caregiver. Long-term caregiving also has its own set of challenges, including possible financial stress, sleeplessness or depression, as caregivers often forgo their own health and well-being in caring for others. In fact, 22 percent of caregivers, say their health is worse as a result of providing care.

22 percent of caregivers say their health is worse as a result of providing care.

Support your caregivers

To support someone in their role as a caregiver, you can start by eliminating or reducing workplace stressors where possible. In-house wellness programs such as yoga and mindfulness training can be a good place to start, and can be a great addition for your whole population. Flexible office hours that allow for a person to take their family member to an appointment, or work from home when the need arises, is another key component to reducing workplace stress. Working with managers to make sure they know the policies on family and caregiver leave is helpful so they can clearly communicate these to their people.

Programs can help

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are also great sources of support for caregivers and other people dealing with complex family conditions. These programs help out with a range of issues that can help families including:

  • Stress and anxiety counseling
  • Caregiver coordination
  • Specialized programs to support children with disabilities
  • Financial and legal advice—wills, estate planning and medical durable power of attorney

As previously discussed, the key to a successful EAP is making sure your employees know about them and take advantage of the services offered.

In addition to EAPs, you may also want to take a look at adding more specific programs, as well as reviewing the existing plan coverage you have in place. For example, a program like Rethink, which supports parents and caregivers of children with developmental disabilities such as autism, could be a welcome addition for a population that is dealing with issues related to this diagnosis. Staying within the example of supporting those in your population with autism, you may also want to look at your existing coverage to see if you have in-network providers who are specialists in autism spectrum disorder. If there aren’t many of these specialists you can then add supplemental coverage to ensure that your people can access care from the specialist they need.

Everyone benefits

There is, of course, the obvious benefit to supporting caregivers and people dealing with complex family conditions—people will feel more supported and better equipped to deal with the challenges that they face. You may also see lower attrition rates and increased company loyalty in your population as a result of your supportive company culture.

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